Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD) is a progressive respiratory condition that affects nearly 50 million people in India, causing persistent breathing difficulties and reducing the overall quality of life. COPD is an umbrella term which encompasses chronic bronchitis and emphysema and is characterized by persistent airflow limitation and difficulty in breathing. 

COPD often results from long-term exposure to irritating gases or particulate matter, most commonly from cigarette smoke. Additional risk factors of COPD include untreated asthma, exposure to air pollution, exposure to biomass fuel and second-hand smoke.

How Heated Steam Therapy Works

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While existing COPD treatments aim to alleviate symptoms and improve lung function, they may fall short in repairing the underlying damage to the lung tissue. Moderate to severe cases often require more targeted approaches to address the structural changes and promote healing within the lungs.

Heated steam therapy (Bronchoscopic thermal vapour ablation) via bronchoscope represents a cutting-edge treatment designed to directly target damaged lung tissue. This minimally invasive procedure involves the introduction of heated steam into the airways through a bronchoscope, a thin, flexible tube equipped with a light and camera. While heated steam therapy holds great promise, it is essential to carefully select patients based on the type and severity of their COPD and overall health. The procedure may be most beneficial for individuals with emphysema localized to upper parts of the lung who have not responded optimally to traditional treatments.

The procedure begins with the insertion of a bronchoscope into the patient's airways, allowing the medical professional to visualize the affected areas. Once the bronchoscope is in position, heated steam is carefully delivered to the targeted regions within the lungs. The controlled application of heat aims to promote tissue repair and reduce inflammation.

Benefits of Heated Steam Therapy:

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- Precision Targeting: Unlike systemic treatments, heated steam therapy precisely targets the affected areas within the lungs, maximizing its therapeutic impact.

- Minimally Invasive: The procedure is minimally invasive, reducing the risks associated with more invasive surgical interventions. Patients typically experience shorter recovery times and fewer complications.

- Improved Lung Function: By promoting tissue repair and regeneration, heated steam therapy aims to enhance lung function, potentially leading to improved breathing and overall quality of life.

Heated steam therapy (Bronchoscopic thermal vapour ablation) via bronchoscope represents a groundbreaking advancement in the field of COPD treatment. By directly addressing damaged lung tissue this innovative approach offers hope to individuals with moderate to severe COPD who seek not only symptom relief despite optimal medical therapy. 

As research and clinical trials continue to unfold, heated steam therapy (Bronchoscopic thermal vapour ablation) may become a transformative option, heralding a new era in the management of chronic respiratory conditions. Always consult with healthcare professionals to determine the most suitable treatment approach based on individual health circumstances.

About the author: Dr. Vivek Singh is the Director, Respiratory and Sleep Medicine, Medanta, Gurugram. All views/opinions expressed in the article are of the author. 

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