Objective: Interventional bronchoscopy is one of the modalities for palliation and definitive treatment of benign tracheal stenosis. There is however no general agreement on the management of this disease. Aim of this work is to define, in the largest group of patients presented in the literature, what types of tracheal stenosis are amenable to definitive treatment by interventional endoscopy.
Methods: From January 1996 to June 2006 209 consecutive patients (105 men, 104 women) with benign tracheal stenosis were referred to our center. Etiology included 167 post-intubation and 34 cases of post-tracheostomy stenoses, 8 cases of other diseases. The lesions were classified into two groups: simple and complex. All but nine patients underwent interventional procedures (mechanical dilatation, laser photoresection and placement of a silicone stent). Two years follow-up was complete for all patients.
Results: Simple stenoses (n=167) were treated by 346 endoscopic procedures (mean of 2.07 per patient), 16 stents and 1 end-to-end anastomosis. Thirty-eight granulomas were treated by 59 procedures (1.56 per patient), 97 concentrical stenoses by 228 procedures (2.35 per patient) and 32 web-like lesions with 59 operative endoscopies (1.84 per patient). Overall success rate was 96%. Among the 42 complex stenoses, 9 were immediately treated by surgical resection and the remaining 33 lesions underwent 123 endoscopic procedures (3.27 per patient), with 34 stents and 1 end-to-end anastomosis subsequent to recurrence after stent removal. In this group the success rate was 69%.
Conclusions: Our study shows that, after a correct classification and stratification, interventional endoscopy may have a crucial role in the treatment of tracheal stenoses. In particular, endoscopy should be considered the first choice for simple stenoses, whereas complex stenoses need a multidisciplinary approach and often require surgery.