Conservative treatment for postintubation tracheobronchial rupture

Ann Thorac Surg. 2000 Jan;69(1):216-20. doi: 10.1016/s0003-4975(99)01129-7.


Background: Postintubation tracheobronchial rupture is usually responsible for unstable intraoperative or postoperative conditions, and its management is discussed. We insist on conservative treatment as a viable alternative after late diagnosis of postintubation tracheobronchial rupture.

Methods: We conducted a retrospective study including 14 consecutive patients treated between April 1981 and July 1998.

Results: Twelve tracheobronchial ruptures occurred after intubation for general surgery and two after thoracic surgery. In all cases, the tear consisted of a linear laceration of the posterior membranous wall of the tracheobronchial tree ranging from 2 to 6 cm. One death occurred in a very weak patient unfit to undergo a redo operation for surgical repair. Seven patients were treated conservatively and cured without sequelae. Six patients underwent surgical repair, of whom 2 were diagnosed and repaired intraoperatively.

Conclusions: Aggressive surgical repair is not always mandatory after delayed diagnosis of iatrogenic tracheobronchial rupture. Conservative treatment must often be considered, except after lung resection.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Algorithms
  • Bronchi / injuries*
  • Bronchi / surgery
  • Bronchoscopy
  • Cause of Death
  • Child
  • Clinical Protocols
  • Female
  • Follow-Up Studies
  • Humans
  • Iatrogenic Disease
  • Intraoperative Complications
  • Intubation, Intratracheal / adverse effects*
  • Intubation, Intratracheal / instrumentation
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Pneumonectomy
  • Postoperative Complications
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Rupture
  • Trachea / injuries*
  • Trachea / surgery