Objective: Airway bypass via transbronchial fenestration has been shown to improve forced expiratory volume and flow in explanted human emphysematous lungs. The aim of this study was to evaluate the feasibility and safety of in vivo airway bypass stent placement by using a canine model and to assess the influence of topical mitomycin C on the prolongation of stent patency.
Methods: With dogs under general anesthesia, suitable segmental and subsegmental bronchial wall sites were selected by direct visualization with a flexible bronchoscope. Peribronchial blood vessel injury was avoided by using a Doppler probe. Transbronchial fenestration was formed with a 22-gauge transbronchial needle, and the passage was then dilated with a 2.5-mm angioplasty balloon. A balloon expandable stainless-steel stent (3 mm long x 3 mm wide) with a sleeve of silicone rubber covering was placed within the fenestration. Animals were bronchoscoped weekly to assess stent patency. Seventy stents were placed in 12 dogs. Thirty-five served as controls, and the other 35 received transbronchoscopic topical application of mitomycin C once weekly to evaluate the effect on the maintenance of stent patency. Mitomycin C stents were divided into 4 groups according to the number of treatments: group A, 1 treatment only; group B, 4 weeks; group C, 7 weeks; and group D, 9 weeks. Each once-weekly mitomycin C application consisted of 0.2 mL at a concentration of 1 mg/mL, delivered through a small polyethylene catheter.
Results: Four instances of minor and brief bleeding occurred during stent placement and resolved without incident. One pneumothorax occurred and was treated by chest tube placement, without any adverse sequelae. There was no mortality associated with stent placement. No delayed hemorrhage or pneumothorax occurred. All control stents were occluded at the 1-week follow-up. The median durations of stent patency for group A (n = 8), group B (n = 9), group C (n = 10), and group D (n = 8) were 3, 8, 13, and greater than 20 weeks, respectively.
Conclusions: Airway bypass stent placement can be performed safely. In an animal model, most stents became occluded within 1 week, but topical mitomycin application resulted in significant prolongation of patency.