Conservative management of a major post-intubation tracheal injury and review of current management

Eur Arch Otorhinolaryngol. 2007 Jun;264(6):685-8. doi: 10.1007/s00405-006-0234-4. Epub 2007 Mar 23.


Tracheal rupture represents a rare but serious complication of intubation. We discuss a case of a major post-intubation rupture. After investigation with CT scan tracheoscopy and bronchoscopy a low tracheostomy was formed protecting the rupture from pressure changes associated with ventilation. The patient was managed with minimal surgical intervention, low tracheostomy with antibiotic cover and monitoring in the intensive care unit for 24 h before being woken and moved to a ward after 48 h. The patient made a full and uncomplicated recovery and was discharged 2 weeks after the original injury. Most of the literature on the subject is made up of review of case reports that conclude management of such a major tear must be with surgical repair. This however confers significant morbidity and an associated high mortality. We suggest an alternative management protocol.

Publication types

  • Case Reports
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Bronchoscopy
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Iatrogenic Disease
  • Intubation, Intratracheal / adverse effects*
  • Middle Aged
  • Rupture / therapy
  • Trachea / injuries*
  • Tracheostomy
  • Wounds and Injuries / etiology
  • Wounds and Injuries / therapy*