Bronchial Thermoplasty Improves Ventilation Heterogeneity Measured by Functional Respiratory Imaging in Severe Asthma

Chuan T. Foo, Graham M. Donovan, Francis Thien, David Langton, Peter B. Noble

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Purpose: Bronchial thermoplasty (BT) is a bronchoscopic intervention for the treatment of severe asthma. Despite demonstrated symptomatic benefit, the underlying mechanisms by which this is achieved remain uncertain. We hypothesize that the effects of BT are driven by improvements in ventilation heterogeneity as assessed using functional respiratory imaging (FRI). Patient and Methods: Eighteen consecutive patients with severe asthma who underwent clinically indicated BT were recruited. Patients were assessed at baseline, 4-week after treatment of the left lung, and 12-month after treatment of the right lung. Data collected included short-acting beta-agonist (SABA) and oral prednisolone (OCS) use, asthma control questionnaire (ACQ-5) and exacerbation history. Patients also underwent lung function tests and chest computed tomography. Ventilation parameters including interquartile distance (IQD; measure of ventilation heterogeneity) were derived using FRI. Results: 12 months after BT, significant improvements were seen in SABA and OCS use, ACQ-5, and number of OCS-requiring exacerbations. Apart from pre-bronchodilator FEV1, no other significant changes were observed in lung function. Ventilation heterogeneity significantly improved after treatment of the left lung (0.18 ± 0.04 vs 0.20 ± 0.04, p=0.045), with treatment effect persisting up to 12 months later (0.18 ± 0.05 vs 0.20 ± 0.04, p=0.028). Ventilation heterogeneity also improved after treatment of the right lung, although this did not reach statistical significance (0.18 ± 0.05 vs 0.19 ± 0.04, p=0.06). Conclusion: Clinical benefits after BT are accompanied by improvements in ventilation heterogeneity, advancing our understanding of its mechanism of action. Beyond BT, FRI has the potential to be expanded into other clinical applications.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)399-409
Number of pages11
JournalJournal of Asthma and Allergy
Publication statusPublished - 22 Apr 2024


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