One-of-a-kind asthma treatment helps Louisville man enjoy life again


by Claudia Coffey

Posted on May 7, 2012 at 5:47 PM

Updated Monday, May 7 at 6:02 PM

LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WHAS11) – A new treatment for severe asthma is helping one local man get his life back.

In the beginning, Morris Thornton thought his allergies and difficulty breathing was just a part of living in the Ohio River Valley.

"So it's trying to define what the problem was,” Thornton said.  “So in the meantime you travel everywhere with rescue inhalers.

What he thought was allergies started 10 years ago and progressively got worse until eventually the avid gardener could not stay outside without gasping for air

He was placed on all kinds of medications and inhalers.

That’s how Morris became the perfect candidate for a new one-of-a-kind treatment at the Cleveland Clinic for severe asthma sufferers.

A video courtesy of the Cleveland Clinic shows Thornton's treatment six weeks ago. The treatment, called Bronchial Thermoplasty, uses tiny blasts of radio frequency energy to smooth the muscles that line airways.

"So what this does is apply heat to those airway walls where often asthma patients get thickening of the muscle and because of that people have a lot more reactivity to their environment,” Dr. Sumita Khatri said.  “So by cutting the spasms of the lung we think that adds to the improvement of asthma symptoms.”

The procedure is done in three separate outpatient visits that result in fewer trips to the hospital, less symptoms and more time to enjoy life.

"After this procedure, it was as if I could inhale as long as I wanted and stop before you felt like you had an elephant on your chest," Thornton said.

This kind of treatment does not work well for smokers or for those that have emphysema.