Long segment malacia of the trachea or main stem bronchi in children is not always suitable for surgical correction; patients may therefore remain ventilator-dependent and/or experience severe obstructive crises. We treated 7 children (ages, 4 months to 9 years) with extreme structural central airway obstruction with stent implantations. Six were mechanically ventilated; 5 had frequent life-threatening obstructive spells requiring deep sedation or paralysis. Diagnoses were: syndrome-associated tracheobronchomalacia (n = 4), malignancy infiltrating the carina (n = 1), congenital tracheal stenosis (n = 1), and tracheobronchial compression by a malpositioned aorta (n = 1). Six tracheal and 13 bronchial stents were endoscopically placed. The prostheses included mesh titan (n = 5), the newer shape memory material nitinol (n = 13), and 1 Y-shaped carina stent. Follow-up was reported for 7 weeks to 72 months. All patients showed marked improvement of their respiratory obstruction. Six children were weaned at least temporarily from ventilation. No significant bleeding, stenosis, or perforation was observed. Seven stents were changed after up to 14 months. Three children are well and at home. In 2 children airway stabilization was successful, but they later died from causes unrelated to stent placement, and 2 children died due to generalized airway disease. Soft metal mesh airway stents can offer a therapeutic option in life-threatening inoperable obstruction of the trachea and main stem bronchi in children.
Copyright 2001 Wiley-Liss, Inc.