Background: Bronchial thermoplasty (BT) is an endoscopic treatment for severe asthma targeting airway smooth muscle (ASM) with radiofrequent energy. Although implemented worldwide, the effect of BT treatment on the airways is unclear. Optical coherence tomography (OCT) is a novel imaging technique, based on near-infrared light, that generates high-resolution cross-sectional airway wall images. Objective: To assess the safety and feasibility of OCT in severe asthma patients and determine acute airway effects of BT by OCT and compare these to the untreated right middle lobe (RML). Methods: Severe asthma patients were treated with BT (TASMA trial). During the third BT procedure, OCT imaging was performed immediately following BT in the airways of the upper lobes, the right lower lobe treated 6 weeks prior, and the untreated RML. Results: 57 airways were imaged in 15 patients. No adverse events occurred. Three distinct OCT patterns were discriminated: low-intensity scattering pattern of (1) bronchial and (2) peribronchial edema and (3) high-intensity scattering pattern of epithelial sloughing. (Peri)bronchial edema was seen in all BT-treated airways, and less pronounced in only 1/3 of the RML airways. These effects extended beyond the ASM layer and more distal than the directly BT-treated areas and were reduced, but not resolved, after 6 weeks. Epithelial sloughing occurred in 11/14 of the BT-treated airways and was absent in untreated RML airways. Conclusions: Acute BT effects can be safely assessed with OCT and 3 distinct patterns were identified. The acute effects extended beyond the targeted ASM layer and distal of directly BT-treated airway areas, suggesting that BT might also target smaller distal airways.
|Journal||Respiration; international review of thoracic diseases|
|Publication status||Published - 2018|