The use of balloon-expandable metallic stents in the treatment of pediatric tracheomalacia and bronchomalacia

Arch Otolaryngol Head Neck Surg. 1999 Feb;125(2):203-7. doi: 10.1001/archotol.125.2.203.


Objective: To evaluate the use of balloon-expandable metallic stents in the treatment of children with tracheomalacia and bronchomalacia in whom conventional therapy has failed.

Design: Retrospective case series.

Setting: Tertiary pediatric otolaryngology and cardiothoracic surgery referral center.

Patients: Six patients were identified as having undergone bronchoscopic placement of metallic balloon-expandable stents between 1994 and 1997. The age at stent placement, prior surgical interventions, and indications for and sites of stent placement were noted. Also, the complications related to stent placement and the current airway status of the patients were reviewed.

Interventions: Twelve balloon-expandable metallic angioplasty stents (Palmaz; Johnson & Johnson Interventional Systems Co, Warren, NJ) were placed bronchoscopically in 6 patients. Six stents were placed in the lower trachea, and 6 were placed in the main bronchi. The stents were balloon expanded under fluoroscopic guidance.

Main outcome measure: Discontinuation of mechanical ventilation.

Results: The age at stent placement ranged from 1.5 to 38 months (mean age at placement, 10 months). The indications for stent placement were (1) tracheomalacia or bronchomalacia, (2) pericardial patch or slide tracheoplasty failure, and (3) bronchomalacia caused by tetralogy of Fallot and large pulmonary arteries. The primary complication of stent placement was postoperative granulation tissue formation. One patient required the removal of 2 tracheal stents because of granulation tissue formation. There were 2 deaths in the series, 1 possibly related to stent placement. Four of the 6 patients were weaned from mechanical ventilation, and 3 experienced prolonged relief of airway obstruction.

Conclusions: Metallic balloon-expandable stents are effective in relieving lower tracheomalacia and bronchomalacia in select patients. Only patients in whom conventional therapy has failed should be considered for stent placement.

MeSH terms

  • Airway Obstruction / congenital*
  • Airway Obstruction / therapy
  • Bronchi / abnormalities*
  • Bronchial Diseases / congenital*
  • Bronchial Diseases / therapy
  • Catheterization / instrumentation*
  • Child
  • Child, Preschool
  • Equipment Design
  • Follow-Up Studies
  • Humans
  • Infant
  • Stents*
  • Trachea / abnormalities*
  • Tracheal Stenosis / congenital*
  • Tracheal Stenosis / therapy
  • Treatment Outcome
  • Ventilator Weaning