Perforation of the pulmonary artery by a bronchial wall stent

Int J Legal Med. 2007 May;121(3):204-6. doi: 10.1007/s00414-006-0082-1. Epub 2006 Apr 8.


Implantation of stents into the bronchial walls is a newly developed method to treat lung emphysema, which is now being tested clinically. During this procedure, a bronchoscope carrying a Doppler ultrasonography head is placed into a segmental bronchus and the blood vessels running in parallel to the bronchus are localized. Once a safe location without blood vessels is found, the bronchial wall is perforated and a stent is placed within the wall to improve the expiratory volume of these "bypasses" to the adjacent lung parenchyma. We observed a fatal complication with this method in a 60-year-old man. The bronchial wall and the pulmonary artery were perforated by one of the stents inducing massive bleeding, which could not be stopped. The patient died due to aspiration of blood in combination with massive loss of blood. The general risk to perforate the pulmonary artery during this procedure cannot be estimated from this single observation but should be considered regarding the legal and clinical aspects.

Publication types

  • Case Reports

MeSH terms

  • Bronchi / injuries
  • Bronchi / pathology
  • Bronchoscopy
  • Fatal Outcome
  • Forensic Pathology
  • Hemorrhage / etiology
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Pulmonary Artery / injuries*
  • Pulmonary Artery / pathology
  • Pulmonary Emphysema / surgery
  • Stents / adverse effects*
  • Ultrasonography, Interventional