Bronchial thermoplasty reduces ventilation heterogeneity measured by multiple breath nitrogen washout

David Langton, Kim Bennetts, Francis Thien, Virginia Plummer, Peter B. Noble

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

5 Citations (Scopus)


Background: Despite demonstrated symptomatic benefit from bronchial thermoplasty (BT), the underlying pathophysiological benefits have been uncertain. The purpose of the present study was to relate clinical benefit after BT to changes in lung physiology, focusing on ventilation homogeneity assessed using multiple breath nitrogen washout (MBNW), and how this may be affected by changes in airway volume and resistance. Methods: Consecutive patients (n = 21) with severe asthma scheduled for BT, were evaluated at baseline, 6 weeks and 6 months after completion of treatment. Assessments included the Asthma Control Questionnaire (ACQ), medication usage, exacerbation frequency, spirometry, plethysmography and MBNW. Eighteen of these patients underwent detailed CT evaluation for the estimation of airway volume at baseline and then after the left lung had received BT treatment but prior to right lung treatment. Data are mean ± STDEV. Results: Patients responded to BT with an improvement in ACQ from 3.4 ± 0.8 at baseline to 2.0 ± 1.1 at 6 months (p < 0.001). Steroid requiring exacerbations fell from 3.1 ± 2.9 in the 6 months prior to BT to 1.4 ± 1.7 following BT (p < 0.001). Significant reductions in maintenance oral steroid dosing and short acting beta agonist use were observed. Airway volume measured by CT scanning significantly increased after treatment. The FEV1 improved from 1.34 ± 0.65 l to 1.52 ± 0.76 l (p = 0.024). The Residual Volume fell from 2.87 ± 0.89 l to 2.71 ± 0.93 l (p = 0.008) and Total Airway Resistance (Raw) from 10.58 ± 6.56 to 7.64 ± 3.74 cmH2O.s.l−1 (p = 0.020). The Lung Clearance Index (LCI) was 187 ± 63% predicted at baseline and improved after treatment from 12.7 ± 3.3 to 11.8 ± 2.4 (p = 0.049). The improvement in LCI correlated with the improvement in Raw (r = 0.463, p = 0.035). Conclusion: Clinical benefit after BT is accompanied by improvements in lung physiology, including normalisation of lung homogeneity that seems to be driven by airway dilation and reduced resistance.

Original languageEnglish
Article number308
JournalRespiratory Research
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2020


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