Background: A variety of respiratory stents are currently available, but the ideal airway prosthesis seems far from being recognized. The objective of this study was to verify safety and long-term effect on the bronchial wall of three different types of airway stents.
Methods: Twelve healthy adult sheep were divided in three groups, scheduled to receive: (1) bare self-expandable metallic stents (Gianturco); (2) silicone stents (Dumon); and (3) covered self-expandable synthetic stents (Polyflex). Insertions were performed through a rigid bronchoscope under general anesthesia. Chest roentgenogram was performed 1 and 6 months after surgery, and flexible bronchoscopy after 6 months. Twelve months postoperatively, the animals were killed and a postmortem examination was carried out.
Results: All Polyflex stents migrated during the observation period; one late migration was observed in the Dumon group. Microscopic study showed: (1) Gianturco stents: full-thickness perforation of the bronchial wall covered by a thick layer of a chronic inflammatory infiltrate. Infection by Candida at the bottom of some ulcerations; (2) Dumon stents: mild bronchial inflammation (squamous metaplasia, submucosal inflammatory infiltrates; granuloma-like infiltrates). In case of displacement, no significant changes of the previously stented bronchus occurred; and (3) Polyflex stents: no changes of the previously stented bronchi.
Conclusions: Gianturco stents proved unsafe in the long term, owing to the risk of severe airway wall damage. The Polyflex stent is well tolerated but presents a high migration rate. Silicone stents show several limitations but appear to be well tolerated by the host mucosa.