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Friday 26th April 2019

Pioneering asthma treatment begins

8th June 2011

Doctors at two UK centres are treating NHS asthma patients with a pioneering new treatment.


Specialists at the centres in Manchester and Glasgow are using the treatment which is described as “melting away” muscle in the airways.

The procedure called bronchial thermoplasty sees a wire probe inserted into the lungs and then heats the tissue and is an alternative to using drugs such as steroids.

The technique, which costs £10,000 per patient and is not being used anywhere else in Europe, uses 10-second bursts of radio waves which heat the lining of the lungs to 65C.

That destroys some of the muscle tissue which constricts during an asthma attack, making breathing difficult.

Dr Rob Niven, senior lecturer in Respiratory Medicine at the University Hospital of South Manchester, led the team carrying out the procedure on patient at Wythenshawe Hospital.

He said as the first non-drug treatment for asthma, the treatment may be a new option for patients with severe asthma who have symptoms despite use of drug therapies.

Bronchial thermoplasty, which will not be used on children, comes after six years of trials in the UK, Canada and South America.

Patients in the United States have been receiving the treatment for some months already.

Asthma UK’s Chief Medical Adviser, Professor Ian Pavord, warned that the procedure would not work for everyone.

“We would encourage people with asthma to discuss various treatment options with their GP to find the best way for them to keep their asthma managed and under control,” he said.


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