Objective: To describe our experience with interventional bronchoscopy in the treatment of central airway stenosis.
Patients and methods: We reviewed patient records and bronchoscopic findings. Clinical data, findings from computed tomography, techniques performed, complications, and results were recorded.
Results: One-hundred and thirty-six patients (90 males and 46 females) were treated. The mean (SD) age was 57 (7) years (range, 3-81). A total of 320 therapeutic interventions were performed: 145 laser treatments, 33 balloon or mechanical dilatations, 26 electrocauterizations, and 116 stent insertions. Pathogenesis varied: in 64 (47%) patients, the stenosis was caused by a tumor (48 were bronchopulmonary and 16 nonpulmonary); in 72 (53%) patients, stenosis was secondary to a nontumor-related process, of which the most common was prolonged intubation (42% of these cases). Central airway patency was achieved in 92% (59/64) of the tumor-related stenoses and 96% (69/72) of those unrelated to tumors. Improvement in dyspnea was observed in 96% of all patients. Two deaths (due to hemoptysis and to acute myocardial infarction) occurred in the first week, for a 1.4% mortality rate. The most common complications were stent migration (8%; 9/116 cases) and the formation of granulomas (9%; 11/116).
Conclusions: Interventional bronchoscopy is an effective technique to resolve life-threatening obstructions of the central airways. Dyspnea improves immediately and there is no significant morbidity or mortality.