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 Odds are that you know someone who suffers from asthma, especially since the disease is one of the most common and costly diseases in the world, affecting more than 25 million Americans.

Consider this: each year there are 13.6 million unscheduled office visits and 1.8 million emergency room visits, many of which lead to hospitalization . . . and many thousands of deaths.

Pulmonary Medicine

Pulmonary Medicine —
Pulmonary Special Procedures

Bronchial Thermoplasty (BT) — A Breakthrough Therapy

There are 20 U.S. Hospitals that can do more for Asthma than medicate it.
We're one of them!

Removing an appendix that's causing appendicitis? Sure.
Extracting wisdom teeth that are wreaking havoc in your mouth? Definitely.
But removing part of the smooth muscle layer of your lungs to treat severe asthma? Sounds rather drastic at first. Impossible, even.
Why would doctors alter the inner layer of your lungs? Because asthma becomes more severe when that smooth muscle layer enlarges, making it very difficult to breathe. And, like your appendix, you can live just as well - if not better - without all of it.

In May 2010, Virginia Hospital Center announced that it would be the first hospital in the United States to offer a new procedure for severe asthma patients, known as bronchial thermoplasty (BT). Approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA), this new procedure is intended for people whose asthma is not well controlled with inhalers and other medicines. Since 2010, 250 men and women have successfully undergone bronchial thermoplasty and are today living lives they had never dared to dream of. Dr. David Duhamel, MD, Pulmonary and Medical Associates of Northern Virginia, Ltd. at the Virginia Hospital Center, is excited about the procedure and how it can impact the lives of severe asthma patients. Learn more

Interventional Bronchoscopy (IB)

David Duhamel, MD is one of the only pulmonologists in our region performing interventional bronchoscopy (IB). As Director of the Pulmonary Special Procedures Unit, Dr. Duhamel specializes in treating conditions that obstruct the trachea and bronchi, including benign and malignant tumors, stenosis (constriction) of the airway, and scarring resulting from surgery or infection.

Patients suffering from cancer of the bronchial tubes or trachea are more likely to die from an inability to breathe than from the cancer itself. Now this complication can be alleviated through a revolutionary procedure known as interventional bronchoscopy. While the patient is under general anesthesia, a tube-like instrument called a "rigid bronchoscope" is inserted into the airway, through which a tiny laser tool is delivered to the site of the tumor. The laser stops the blood supply to the tumor through a process of "photocoagulation" and the tumor is removed. To prevent the airway from subsequently collapsing, a small plastic device called a stent is inserted, providing a form of scaffolding for the bronchial passage. In cases of malignancy, removal of the tumor is often followed by radiation or chemotherapy.

Interventional bronchoscopy also has applications beyond cancer treatments. The procedure can be used to remove scar tissue—resulting from bronchial infection, tracheotomy or surgical intubation—that may be obstructing an airway.


Another procedure in Dr. Duhamel's arsenal is brachytherapy, a similar treatment which delivers localized radiation to the site of a tumor through a catheter, thus protecting healthy lung tissue from unnecessary radiation exposure.

Interventional Bronchoscopy and Brachytherapy are not curative treatments for cancer, but they can significantly enhance quality of life for patients living with the disease by eliminating the need for ventilators.

Top Doctor

David Duhamel, MD Congratulations David Duhamel, MD for being named in Washingtonian and Northern Virginia Magazines’ 2017 TOP DOCTORS!

Dr. Duhamel joined the Hospital after having completed a three year fellowship at University of California—San Diego, where he received training from renowned pulmonary specialist James Harrell, MD, one of the creators of the Dumon-Harrell bronchoscope. During his tenure at UCSD, Dr. Duhamel authored an Atlas of Diseases of the Airway and an instructional DVD for new pulmonary physicians.

Procedure footage and case study by Dr. David Duhamel of Virginia Hospital Center featuring the use of the Dynamic™ (Y) Stent for tracheobronchomalacia.

Clinical Support


Bronchial Thermoplasty Success Story

photo of the asthma patient
“Asthma felt like a knife jabbing in my chest. After the first procedure, I felt fantastic right away. I wasn’t tired, sick, or wheezing. So I started running and got faster and faster. I lost 40-50 pounds, and then started placing at the top in local races. I haven’t missed a day of work in five years. I love Dr. Duhamel and Dr. Hales, my pulmonologists, and all their staff, and everyone at Virginia Hospital Center. They are all just the best people in the world, and I owe them my life. Every morning I get up and pray that they have the greatest day." — Tony

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