abc
QUICK LINKS:

Helping Asthma Patients Breathe Better

Updated: 05/07/2014 10:41 PM
Created: 05/07/2014 2:51 PM WDIO.com

Samantha Anderson greets countless customers at the service desk at L&M Supply in Grand Rapids.

She's got a great smile and helpful demeanor. She also has severe asthma.

"If I laugh too hard, it triggers an asthma attack. If I have an emotional day and I cry, it triggers an asthma attack. I wake up in the middle of the night, not able to breathe, three or four times a night," she shared with us at work last month.

Still, she takes this in stride. The 21-year-old from Bovey really enjoys the outdoors, kayaking in particular. "It's hard because I can't really be by myself or too far away from anyone, just in case. I also can't run very far before needing my inhaler. I'd like to run, for fun!"

She's on inhalers and medications, but they just weren't helping enough.

Her pulmonologist, Dr. Sonja Bjerk, suggested a new treatment, called bronchial thermoplasty.

We were invited in to see the procedure. Samantha's is only the second one performed at Essentia Health St. Mary's Medical Center.

Bjerk, along with a respiratory therapist, work together to use a catheter that delivers radio frequency waves directly to the airway muscle in the lungs. The burst of waves are about ten seconds long, and are called activations.

The activations heat the muscle up, which then will shrink it, although not enough for the naked eye to see during the surgery. Asthma patients like Samantha have airway muscles that are built up too much. 

This procedure will bring it down 50%, to normal levels, according to Travis Anderson, a specialist from Boston Scientific, who manufactures the equipment.

Samantha needed 85 activations. The number varies by patient, because everyone's lungs are a little big different. A program coordinator helps keep track of the activations, but they are also tracked by the medical device. 

Dr. Bjerk said it's exciting doing this procedure. "We have so many patients waiting for help. It's why we go into the field of medicine, to help people." She and another pulmonologist have had special training to operate with the equipment.

Boston Scientific told us only four sites in Minnesota can do bronchial thermoplasty with Essentia Health St. Mary's being one of them. The others are in the Twin Cities and in St. Cloud.

Samantha told us she was feeling great a few hours after the surgery. She can't wait to run! She will still need two more treatments, before the three-part surgery is complete. But Bjerk and the Boston Scientific reps said many patients feel the effects right away, after the first one.

Front Page

  • Russell Shannon Johnson Virginia Police: Murder Charge for Death of Child

    Authorities have arrested a 26-year-old Hibbing man in connection with the 2012 death of his former girlfriend's two-year-old daughter. Johnson, 26, is charged with second-degree murder and appeared in court Friday.

  • Injured Duluth Man Rescued in Quetico Park

    Ontario Provincial Police officers have rescued a Duluth man who broke his leg in Quetico Provincial Park, which is north of the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness.

  • Duluth Adds 2,200 Students: Move-In Day for UMD

    The population in Duluth went up a couple of thousand on Thursday, as the freshman class at UMD moved into the dorms.

  • Incoming UWS Freshmen Carry the Comforts of Home

    Incoming freshmen moved into their dorms at the University of Wisconsin Superior on Thursday. The new college students were carrying all of their belongings, including a lot of technology that hasn't always been so common on a college campus.

  • Getting Kids Ready to Go Back to School

    Like it or not, the new school year is just around the corner. After three months of late nights, sleeping in, snacking, and tons of fun, transitioning back to the school year can be tough. Eyewitness News learned a few tips that can ease the change.

 

Flood Advisory

MN AREAS AFFECTED: Pine
Expires: 8/29/2014 7:15 PM

Flood Advisory

WI AREAS AFFECTED: Bayfield; Burnett; Douglas; Sawyer; Washburn
Expires: 8/29/2014 7:15 PM

Advertisement
Advertisement
Advertisement
Advertisement