Background and aim: Tracheal stenosis is a common complication of intubation with or without subsequent tracheotomy whose management remains poorly defined. Over 600 post-intubation tracheal stenoses have been treated in our centre since 1982: the aim of this study was to determine the safety and efficacy of our endoscopic approach.
Methods: This retrospective study includes 113 new cases treated between 1998 and 2001. We chose this period to have a standardised technique and a significant number of cases with a sufficiently long follow up (28-78 months). Forty patients who did not meet the criteria for "true stenosis" (granulomas, pseudoglottic stenosis, etc.) were excluded from the study.
Results: 73 patients (50+/-21 years) entered the study: 13 (18%) web-like and 60 (82%) complex stenoses. Most web-like stenoses were successfully treated with Laser Assisted Mechanical Dilation (LAMD) alone; among complex stenoses LAMD was sufficient to treat 13 patients (22%), whereas 47 patients (78%) required stent placement: 22 had their stent removed after one year and did not require any further therapy, 13 inoperable patients required permanent stent and 12 were referred to surgery after failure of multiple endoscopic treatments. No permanent complications secondary to endoscopic treatment were observed. 48 patients (66%) obtained a stable, good result with the endoscopic procedure, 13 (18%) required a permanent stent while 12 patients (16%) were referred to surgery.
Conclusions: Our results indicate that the endoscopic treatment of post-intubation tracheal stenoses performed in an expert setting can be considered a safe first-line therapy, leaving some selected cases and the relapsing stenoses, for surgical resection.