Study objectives: Bronchoscopic balloon dilatation (BBD) has become a valuable tool in the treatment of benign tracheobronchial stenoses. The objective of this study was to assess indications for and results of fiberoptic BBD in treating malignant lesions.
Design: One hundred twenty-six balloon dilatation procedures were performed in 78 patients with predominantly bronchial carcinoma. BBD was only performed when alternative modes of local treatment (eg, laser therapy or stent implantation) were not indicated or were inappropriate. Indications were symptomatic stenoses of the tracheobronchial tree: dyspnea or stridor (52%), retention pneumonia (15%), atelectasis (10%), retention of secretions (21%), or lung abscess (2%).
Results: Fifty-five percent of all procedures consisted of dilatations of tracheal or bronchial lesions (group 1). In 22% of procedures, a stent was dilated (group 2). In 13%, BBD was used to facilitate stent placement (group 3), and in 10% to enable the correct positioning of irradiation probes for brachytherapy (group 4). In group 1 and group 2, 2 of 2 lung abscesses resolved, 5 of 8 atelectases resolved, and 11 of 12 retention pneumonias resolved. Dyspnea improved in only 12 of 32 patients. No abscess recurred. Two pneumonias and two atelectases reappeared due to restenosis. Stent implantation and brachytherapy procedures were facilitated in 90% of cases. In 52% of cases, BBD was supported by high-frequency jet ventilation. Complications consisted of one fatal hemoptysis caused by a lacerated pulmonary artery, and minor bleeding not necessitating specific therapy.
Conclusions: Fiberoptic BBD is useful in the management of airway stents prior to and postimplantation, as well as in the placement of brachytherapy catheters. BBD is also successful in the resolution of poststenotic lung abscesses, retention pneumonias, and atelectases.