At Keck Medicine of USC, bronchial thermoplasty is part of the comprehensive management and treatment of patients with severe asthma. Our team of doctors, including Dr. Rick BarbersDr. Ching-Fei ChangDr. Ricardo Juarez and Dr. David Kelley are here to provide excellent treatment and care to patients.

A New Treatment for Asthmapulmonary-alair

Bronchial thermoplasty is a novel treatment method for patients with severe asthma. Performed as an outpatient procedure, bronchial thermoplasty is completed in three sessions scheduled approximately three weeks apart using a device called the Alair System. The procedure is performed with a bronchoscope, which is a long flexible tube with a camera on one end that allows the pulmonologist to see inside the airway.

How does bronchial thermoplasty treat asthma?pulmonary-lungillus

Asthma is a chronic inflammatory condition of the airways characterized by periodic symptoms of breathlessness, coughing and wheezing. Chronic airway inflammation can lead to an increase in thickness of airway smooth muscle (ASM), which causes airflow constriction and difficulty breathing.

The first asthma treatment modality aimed at reducing the thickness of ASM, bronchial thermoplasty improves a patient’s breathing capacity by reducing the airways’ ability to constrict airflow. Asthma patients who received bronchial thermoplasty during clinical trials have demonstrated significant improvement in their asthma symptoms as well as a reduction in the number of severe asthma flare-ups and emergency department visits.

How is bronchial thermoplasty performed?

The BT device applies mild heat inside the airways to reduce excessive smooth muscle. The reduction in muscle tissue helps minimize airway constriction. The first session treats the airways in the right lower lobe of the lungs, the second treats the airways in the left lower lobe, and the third procedure treats the airways in both upper lobes of the lungs.

Following each procedure, the patient will be monitored to ensure breathing, heart rate, blood pressure, level of oxygen in the blood, and lung function tests are near normal levels.

Who makes a good candidate for bronchial thermoplasty?

To be considered for bronchial thermoplasty treatment, you should:

  • Be an adult between 18-65 years old
  • Be a non-smoker for at least the past year
  • Have severe or persistent asthma not well controlled by inhaled corticosteroids or long-acting bronchodilator medications

What are the benefits of bronchial thermoplasty?

In a clinical study of patients with severe asthma, 79% of patients treated with Bronchial Thermoplasty (BT), delivered by the Alair™ System, saw a significant improvement in their asthma-related quality of life compared with patients who did not receive BT treatment. 1

In addition, patients treated with BT experienced:

  • 32% fewer severe asthma attacks 1
  • 84% fewer asthma-related emergency room visits 1
  • 66% fewer days lost from work, school, and other activities due to asthma symptoms 1

Lasting benefits:

  • Improvements in quality of life and number of days lost from activities due to asthma symptoms were followed for one year. 1
  • Reductions in asthma attacks and emergency room visits were shown to extend through a 2-year follow-up period. 2


  1. Castro M, et al, for the AIR2 Trial Study Group. Am J Respir Crit Care Med. 2010;181:116-124.
  2. Castro M, et al. Ann Allergy Asthma Immunol. 2011;107:65-70.

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For more information or to become a patient, call (800) USC-CARE (800-872-2273).