Southcoast Health offers life-changing procedure proven to reduce severe asthma attacks

No other healthcare system south of Boston, in Rhode Island or on Cape Cod offers Bronchial Thermoplasty

NEW BEDFORD, Mass. — Southcoast Health announced today that it now offers Bronchial Thermoplasty (BT), the first non-drug treatment option for adults with severe asthma, which has been proven to reduce severe asthma attacks and emergency rooms visits and has been shown to improve asthma-related quality of life for people living with the disease. The procedure is being performed by pulmonologist Dr. Michael Barretti at St. Luke’s Hospital in New Bedford. No other healthcare system south of Boston, in Rhode Island or on Cape Cod offers BT.

In the United States, asthma affects nearly 25 million Americans, of which 11.3 million experience an asthma attack each year, resulting in 439,000 hospitalizations and 3,630 deaths, according to information on the CDC’s website. The Global Strategy for Asthma Management and Prevention reports that 10 percent of Americans affected by asthma have severe asthma. For those with severe asthma, high doses of standard medications may not be enough to alleviate frequent and life-threatening asthma attacks, which can have a significant impact on asthma-related quality of life.

“Bronchial thermoplasty is an exciting new intervention that we now offer for the treatment of some of the most severe cases of asthma,” said Dr. Barretti. “The procedure itself is akin to a routine bronchoscopy with extremely low risk compared to other procedures done within the lungs.”

BT is delivered by the Alair System in three outpatient sessions; each session lasts about one hour and treats a different part of the lung to ensure safety. During the procedure, a bronchoscope is inserted through the nose or mouth, and a carefully controlled device delivers mild heat to the smooth muscle of the airways in the lungs, reducing the amount of excessive smooth muscle. With less smooth muscle, the airways constrict less, reducing severe asthma attacks and making breathing easier. No incision is needed.

In a clinical study, 79 percent of adult patients treated with BT experienced a significant improvement in their asthma-related quality of life.

“Bronchial thermoplasty is not a cure for asthma, but is an adjunct, one-time therapy which allows people with the most severe asthma to be treated more effectively and maintain a much better quality of life,” stated Dr. Barretti. “The patient’s I have treated have reported far fewer and less severe asthma exacerbations, emergency room visits, and the ability to do things they were unable to prior to the procedure. In addition, these results are maintained after the procedure. I truly believe that this is a game-changer in quality of life for patients with severe persistent asthma.”

The BT procedure is not a substitute for daily maintenance medication as prescribed by a doctor. It works along with medications to provide less risk of severe asthma attacks and its complications for those suffering from severe asthma. Learn more at

Prospective patients should speak with their pulmonologist, asthma specialist, allergist or primary care physician to determine if this procedure is the right option. Visit for more information.