Tracheobronchial ruptures from blunt thoracic trauma in children

J Pediatr Surg. 1999 Dec;34(12):1847-50. doi: 10.1016/s0022-3468(99)90328-7.


Background/purpose: Tracheobronchial ruptures in blunt thoracic trauma in children are rare. The aim of this study was to suggest the means of an early diagnosis and a conservative management as often as possible.

Methods: Sixteen cases of tracheobronchial ruptures by blunt thoracic trauma were observed over 26 years in 9 regional pediatric centers.

Results: There were 12 boys and 4 girls, from ages 1 hour to 17 years. Nine children presented with associated lesions. Fibroscopy established the following diagnosis: 8 tracheal wounds and 8 bronchial wounds. Six children were operated on within 18 hours (on average) after installation of a thoracic drainage. Two lobectomies, 3 ideal tracheal sutures, and 1 bronchial suture were performed. Seven children were treated exclusively by thoracic drainage. Two of them were intubated through the lesion, leading to a transitory endoprothesis accompanied or not by an external thoracic drainage. One infant recovered spontaneously. There were no deaths in this series. Two recurrent postoperative nerve injuries were noted, one of which was a transitory spontaneously resolutive scar bud and one a granuloma treated by laser. Three times, a stenosis occurred after a conservative management. Two were operated on.

Conclusions: Tracheobronchial ruptures in children are rare. An early fibroscopy holds an important place in the approach of this pathology. Treatment is variable, based on thoracic lesions, their tolerance by the child, and associated lesions. Surgery is not the only therapy because conservative treatment by simple thoracic drainage or lesion intubation has proved effective.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Bronchi / injuries*
  • Child
  • Child, Preschool
  • Drainage
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Infant
  • Infant, Newborn
  • Male
  • Rupture
  • Thoracic Injuries / complications*
  • Trachea / injuries*
  • Wounds, Nonpenetrating / complications*