- Open Access
Bronchial thermoplasty (BT) is a novel endoscopic therapy for severe asthma. Traditionally it is performed in three separate treatment sessions, targeting different portions of the lung, and each requires an anaesthetic and hospital admission. Compression of treatment into 2 sessions would present a more convenient alternative for patients. In this prospective observational study, the safety of compressing BT into two treatment sessions was compared with the traditional 3 treatment approach.
Sixteen patients meeting ERS/ATS criteria for severe asthma consented to participate in an accelerated treatment schedule (ABT), which treated the whole left lung followed by the right lung four weeks later. The short-term outcomes of these patients were compared with 37 patients treated with conventional BT scheduling (CBT). The outcome measures used to assess safety were (1) the requirement to remain in hospital beyond the electively planned 24-h admission and (2) the need for re-admission for any cause within of 30 days of treatment.
The total number of radiofrequency activations delivered in the ABT group was similar to CBT (187 ± 21 vs 176 ± 40, p = 0.326). With ABT, 11 in 31 admissions (37.9%) required prolonged admission due to wheezing, compared to 5.4% with CBT (p = 0.0025). The mean hospital length of stay with ABT was 1.8 ± 1.3 days, compared to 1.1 ± 0.4 days (p < 0.001). ICU monitoring was required on 5 occasions with ABT (16.1%), compared to 0.9% with CBT (p = 0.002). Subgroup analysis demonstrated that females were more likely to require prolonged admission (OR 11.6, p = 0.0025). The 30-day hospital readmission rate was similar for both groups (6.4% vs 5.4%, p = 0.67). All patients made a complete recovery after treatment with similar outcomes at the 6-month follow-up reassessment.
This study demonstrates that ABT results in greater short-term deterioration in lung function associated with a greater risk of prolonged hospital and ICU stay, predominantly affecting females. Therefore, in females, these risks need to be balanced against the convenience of fewer treatment sessions. In males, it may be an advantage to compress treatment.