A new surgical treatment could revolutionise the way asthma is managed, researchers told a national conference in Perth today.
The minimally invasive treatment, known as bronchial thermoplasty, prevents narrowing of the airways and uses heat to widen them by removing excess smooth muscle, theAnnual Scientific Meeting of the Thoracic Society of Australia and New Zealand heard.
Director of bronchology at the Royal Brisbane and Women’s Hospital David Fielding said the results revealed a change in the way asthma behaves and the amount of medicine needed to treat the disease.
“They show that in patients with severe asthma you can do this treatment down the bronchoscope and drastically reduce the reliance of asthma patients on strong medication that can have side effects,” Dr Fielding said.
Perth man Mike Scott has had asthma since he was two-years-old.
“If you can’t breathe, you can’t do most things, the consequence of that is it does have a negative effect mentally,” he said.
Mr Scott said his asthma had improved significantly since he underwent bronchial thermoplasty.
In the Australian trial of the treatment, 17 patients were treated from June 2014 to June 2015 in several states.
Dr Fielding said the main benefit of the treatment was an improvement in quality of life.
“What this is trying to do is… improve the quality of life, reduce the number of times they go to hospital, reduce the number of times they go to the doctor, and reduce the number of times they’re on strong medications.”
An estimated 2.3 million Australians have asthma, with respiratory illnesses affecting 29 per cent of Australians and costing the health system an estimated $4.5 billion per year.
Dr Martin Phillips, a respiratory physician at Sir Charles Gairdner Hospital in Perth’s western suburbs, said further research and funding was needed as it was a fairly new study and approach.
“We know that it has effects that can last up to five years, but we don’t really know beyond that time. It would be good to be able to identify exactly who benefits from this,” Dr Phillips said.
At the meeting, the “Lungs for Life” appeal was launched to raise funds for research. For more details go to: www.thoracic.org.au