MIAMI (CBSMiami) — Pollen, mold, even the humidity can send asthma sufferers into a severe melt down.  For some, it could even mean a trip to the hospital.  But there’s a relatively new outpatient procedure called Bronchial Thermoplasty which offers hope for those suffering from extreme cases.

“I couldn’t breath,” explained Annette Basulto-Alvarez who has battled severe asthma for years. “It rains here every day and I found it hard, very difficult, to walk the dogs, to go out with my family.”

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Annette said she tried everything, including the sprays and expensive prescription medication, and her asthma just kept getting worse.

“So I ended up in the emergency room, getting crisis doses of asthma medications and steroids through an IV.”

Annette explained that the ER doctor who attended to her, Dr. Raul Valor, told her about Bronchial Thermoplasty.

It’s done in three treatments as an outpatient procedure under anesthesia.

“We snake a small probe into the patient’s airways. The end of the probe heats the inside of the airway, reducing the amount of muscle that’s constricting it,” he said.  “It’s about a 25 to 30 minute procedure done in the endoscopy unit at the hospital.”

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Out of Florida’s largest insurance companies, currently only AVMED covers Bronchial Thermoplasty, which is FDA approved, but some insurers consider experimental.

“All we can do is reach out to the insurance industry and try to explain to them and hopefully convince them that this is a truly valuable procedure that changes lives,” said Dr. Valor. “Patients have all gone home the same day so it’s very safe.”

Annette said she ended her treatments about 6 months ago and feels like a new person.

“It made a difference in my life and I know it will make a difference in other patients as well.”

Click here for more information about the Bronchial Thermoplasty.


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