Tracheobronchial stenting and central airway replacement

Demosthenes Makris, Charles-Hugo Marquette
Current Opinion in Pulmonary Medicine 2007, 13 (4): 278-83

PURPOSE OF REVIEW: The present paper reviews the recent literature on the management of malignant large airway obstruction using tracheobronchial stenting and airway replacement by aortic allografts.

RECENT FINDINGS: Airway stenting is a valuable adjunct to therapeutic bronchoscopy to relieve malignant airway obstruction. Over 80% of patients with obstructing lesions who were treated by airway stenting presented immediate symptom improvement in recent series. Stenting may also function as a bridge until further curative treatment can be used. Different stent models are available; their advantages and disadvantages depend on materials and constructions; clinical experience is larger with silicon-based models than with metallic stents. An alternative strategy for the management of nonresectable primary tracheal tumors aiming to replace the central airway with an allogenic aortic allograft has been proposed. Experimental studies showed that an aortic allograft produced a respiratory conduit that shared fundamental elements of the trachea and newly formed cartilage rings were observed.

SUMMARY: Airway stenting provides efficient palliation of symptoms in patients with malignant central airway obstruction. Evidence-based studies are needed to identify patients who may have the greatest benefit from stenting. Tracheal replacement with allogenic aortic allografts is a novel technique which brings hope to the management of extensive tracheal lesions.

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