New “life changing” procedure can be offered to adults with severe asthma on NHS

NICE draft guidance published last week says a potentially life changing treatment for some adults with severe asthma is safe and effective enough for use on the NHS, depending on commissioning arrangements.

Bronchial thermoplasty for severe asthma takes place under sedation or general anaesthetic and short pulses of radiofrequency energy are applied to the airway wall.

Two further sessions of treatment with three weeks intervals take place to complete the procedure. It reduces the smooth muscle mass lining the airways, decreasing their ability to constrict.

Professor Kevin Harris, programme director and clinical advisor for the Interventional Procedures Programme at NICE, said: “This is a procedure which is innovative and it does work.

“If you are frequently admitted to hospital with severe asthma which cannot be controlled with drugs, this is a procedure which people may wish to consider after discussions with their clinician.

“Asthma is a common disease and the vast majority of patients won’t require this treatment. But for people with severe asthma this procedure could be life changing. The committee was convinced it was safe enough and works well enough for use with standard arrangements in the NHS.”

New data on this procedure allowed the independent committee to change their recommendation and to allow this procedure to be carried out under standard arrangements rather than special arrangements.