Purpose of review: This review summarizes the literature on adult or acquired tracheobronchomalacia (TBM) and explores its association with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD).
Recent findings: Dynamic imaging of central airways, a noninvasive test as effective as bronchoscopy to diagnose TBM, has increased the recognition of this disorder. Airway stabilization techniques using stents placed via bronchoscopy have also furthered the interest in TBM. The association of TBM with COPD is of growing interest particularly in the face of worldwide rise in COPD incidence. The pathobiology behind this condition may share significant common ground with COPD.
Summary: Despite the lack of uniformly accepted diagnostic criteria and the uncertain correlation to clinical manifestations and course, technologic advances in imaging and interventional bronchoscopy have spurred clinicians' interest in TBM. In exploring the association of TBM and COPD, an intriguing consideration is whether TBM could be an extension of peripheral airway disease.