Pitfalls in laryngotracheal reconstruction

S S Choi, G H Zalzal
Archives of Otolaryngology—Head & Neck Surgery 1999, 125 (6): 650-3

OBJECTIVE: To determine the causes of laryngotracheal reconstruction (LTR) failures.

DESIGN: Retrospective chart review.

SETTING: Tertiary care children's hospital.

PATIENTS: Seventeen pediatric patients who underwent revision LTR from October 1, 1986, to December 31, 1998.

INTERVENTION: Laryngotracheal reconstruction.


RESULTS: Seventeen patients required a total of 42 LTRs for decannulation. There were 17 primary LTRs and 25 revision LTRs. The primary LTRs were done either at our or other institutions. Two patients died after initial LTR failed, one because of tracheotomy tube plugging and the other because of a severe respiratory syncytial virus pneumonia. All 15 remaining patients have been decannulated. There were 27 failed LTRs with 17 being primary and 10 revision LTR failures. In 3 of the 27 failed procedures, no obvious causes for failure could be found. In the remaining 24 procedures, 1 or more factors that contributed to LTR failure could be found. Poor preoperative evaluation with subsequent failure to address the airway lesion was seen in 6 procedures. Intraoperative reasons for LTR failure included inappropriate choice of graft in 2 procedures; inappropriate stent in 7; inappropriate stent length in 1; and inappropriate duration of stent in 8. In 6 procedures, the airway abnormalities identified at endoscopy were not adequately addressed at LTR. Postoperative factors for failure were poor follow-up in 2, anterior suprastomal collapse in 2, and slipped or broken stent in 2. Other factors that contributed to LTR failures included intractable gastroesophageal reflux disease in 1 procedure and keloid formation in 5.

CONCLUSIONS: Although some LTRs may fail secondary to factors that are not under the surgeon's control, many LTR failures can be avoided by accurate preoperative and intraoperative assessment of the stenosis, correct choice of surgical procedure, and close postoperative monitoring.

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