A new airway heating procedure could help to reduce the symptoms of severe asthma, according to draft Interventional Procedures guidance from the National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence (NICE).
NICE provisionally recommends bronchial thermoplasty as a treatment to reduce the frequency and intensity of asthma attacks, pending further study of its long-term safety and efficacy.
Bronchial thermoplasty could significantly reduce the costs of asthma treatment by reducing the patient’s dependence on medicines and inhalers.
The procedure involves inserting a special catheter through the nose or mouth into the bronchial tubes that carry air to the lungs. The catheter delivers radiofrequency heat that destroys part of the bronchial muscle lining, which goes into spasm during asthma attacks.
According to NICE, there is evidence that bronchial thermoplasty can reduce the frequency of asthma attacks and the patient’s dependence on medication. However, some patients experience short-term adverse reaction, while the procedure’s long-term safety is not proven.
NICE’s draft guidance advises doctors to explain the uncertainties and risks to their patients before obtaining their consent for the procedure, to inform their clinical governance leads and to audit the clinical outcomes.
Professor Bruce Campbell, Chair of the independent committee that develops NICE’s Interventional Procedures guidance, said: “We welcome comments from patients and their families, from specialists and from any other interested people during this consultation, so that our final guidance can be of the greatest use to patients who have severe asthma and the respiratory teams involved in decisions about their treatment.”
The consultation period will end on 19 August, with final NICE guidance expected in November. The final guidance will consider safety and efficacy only: cost will be assessed locally by NHS bodies.