News | Published May 17, 2013

A new treatment for severe asthma offered at Mount Nittany Medical Center

Imagine having severe shortness of breath from asthma, and no amount of medications and inhalants provide help. Now imagine that a new treatment becomes available that opens up the bronchial tubes, and for the first time in months, even years, you can breathe much better than before.

Bronchial thermoplasty is a new technology offered at Mount Nittany Medical Center, and it offers the hope of improved breathing for people with persistent asthma, according to John Cox, MD, pulmonary medicine, Mount Nittany Physician Group.

“Although only a small percentage (3-5 percent) of asthmatics require this treatment, the results can be dramatic, and also, the amount of resources that it takes to treat people with persistent and severe asthma is also great, so there is a cost benefit as well,” said Dr. Cox.

Bronchial thermoplasty is an outpatient procedure accomplished in three separate visits to the Medical Center’s ambulatory care unit. Performed under anesthesia, the process involves a lighted catheter applying heat to the airway smooth muscle (ASM) in the bronchial tubes, thus reducing the amount of excess ASM.

With a reduced ASM, it becomes less likely that the bronchial tube will spasm and close, causing a restricted airway.

“Once a patient has gone through the three-step procedure, it never needs to be repeated,” according to Dr. Cox.

Mount Nittany Medical Center is the only facility offering bronchial thermoplasty within a 63- mile radius of State College. For more information about bronchial theromplasty, call 814.234.8800 or visit