JOURNAL ARTICLE
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The role of aortopexy in severe tracheomalacia.

PURPOSE: Aortopexy is the accepted operative treatment for severe and localized tracheomalacia (TM). The standard surgical approach involves a left anterior thoracotomy, often under bronchoscopic control. We report the results of aortopexy in 28 children with severe and localized TM; 12 had a left lateral muscle-sparing approach and one had a thoracoscopic aortopexy.

METHODS: Retrospective review of patient notes was performed to note the indications, investigation findings, and postoperative course after aortopexy.

RESULTS: The median age at aortopexy was 5 months. The indications included acute life-threatening events in 22, failure to extubate in 5, and recurrent pneumonia in 1. Fifteen had associated esophageal atresia and 13 had primary TM. Symptoms of TM were abolished in 26 of the 28 patients after aortopexy.

CONCLUSIONS: Aortopexy is a safe and reliable procedure to treat localized intrathoracic TM presenting with acute life-threatening events. It is important to exclude associated problems such as vascular rings and to ensure that the tracheomalacic portion is segmental and does not significantly involve the main bronchi. The lateral muscle-sparing thoracotomy provides good access and is more cosmetic than the standard anterior approach. We would attempt the thoracoscopic approach in older infants and children.

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