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Temple Physicians Perform Philadelphia's First Therapeutic Post-Clinical Trial Bronchial Thermoplasty

Temple Physicians Perform Philadelphia's First Therapeutic Post-Clinical Trial Bronchial ThermoplastyPhysicians at the Temple Lung Center have performed Philadelphia's first therapeutic, post-clinical trial bronchial thermoplasty procedure on 44-year old Ecolia Pulliam, completing the third and final treatment on May 31, 2012.

Pulliam has struggled with asthma since childhood. As an adult, the symptoms got so bad that she couldn’t work and would end up in the hospital several times a month.

"Normalcy didn't exist for me," she says simply. "I was on the highest doses of medication, but it was never under control."

In January, Temple Lung Center physicians Gerard J. Criner, MD, and Kartik Shenoy, MD, told Pulliam about bronchial thermoplasty. The treatment is for patients who have not responded to high-dose inhaler therapy. Temple is the first hospital in Philadelphia to offer this innovative procedure clinically.

During bronchial thermoplasty, precisely regulated heat is applied to smooth muscles lining the bronchial passages. This reduces tissue volume and prevents the swelling and spasm of muscles that obstructs airflow in the lungs and causes the breathing difficulties experienced by asthma patients.

"Bronchial thermoplasty is a viable treatment option for select patients who suffer from severe asthma, like Ms. Pulliam," said Dr. Criner, Chair of the Department of Medicine at Temple University School of Medicine and Director of the nationally renowned Temple Lung Center. "Each year, these patients suffer from severe asthma attacks and often find themselves in the Emergency Department for care. For treatment, they are forced to rely upon steroidal agents that cause weight gain and other side effects."

Bronchial thermoplasty, which is FDA approved, requires three outpatient visits, each treating a different area of the lungs. Having completed all three of the procedures, Pulliam has already noticed the difference.

"Before the first procedure I had to use my inhaler six to eight times a day," she says. "After the treatment I cut that down to twice a day, a big difference for me." Pulliam hopes that the full course of treatment will allow her to take part in normal daily activities again, like exercising and playing with her grandchildren.

"Studies have shown that this procedure can reduce severe asthma attacks, ER visits and time lost from work and other daily activities," says Dr. Shenoy. "Once a patient receives the three treatments, the effects are permanent and no further treatments are required."

Bronchial thermoplasty is expected to complement asthma maintenance medications by providing long-lasting asthma control and improving asthma-related quality of life of patients with severe asthma.

"While it may sound counterintuitive to decrease the muscles that line the airways in people with breathing problems," says Dr. Shenoy, "the reality is that it can help certain asthmatics breathe easier."

For more information or to schedule an appointment with a Temple Lung Center physician, call 1-800-TEMPLE-MED (1-800-836-7536).

Date Published: Tuesday, June 12, 2012

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