Tracheobronchomalacia in infants and children: multidetector CT evaluation

Radiology. 2009 Jul;252(1):7-22. doi: 10.1148/radiol.2513081280.


Tracheobronchomalacia (TBM) is the most common congenital central airway anomaly, but it frequently goes unrecognized or is misdiagnosed as other respiratory conditions such as asthma. Recent advances in multidetector computed tomography (CT) have enhanced the ability to noninvasively diagnose TBM with the potential to reduce the morbidity and mortality associated with this condition. Precise indications are evolving but may include symptomatic pediatric patients with known risk factors for TBM and patients with otherwise unexplained impaired exercise tolerance; recurrent lower airways infection; and therapy-resistant, irreversible, and/or atypical asthma. With multidetector CT, radiologists can now perform objective and quantitative assessment of TBM with accuracy similar to that of bronchoscopy, the reference standard for diagnosing this condition. Multidetector CT enables a comprehensive evaluation of pediatric patients suspected of having TBM by facilitating accurate diagnosis, determining the extent and degree of disease, identifying predisposing conditions, and providing objective pre- and postoperative assessments. In this article, the authors present a step-by-step primer of multidetector CT imaging for evaluating infants and children with suspected TBM, including clinical indications, patient preparation, multidetector CT techniques and protocols, two- and three-dimensional processing of multidetector CT data, and image interpretation. The major aim of this article is to facilitate the reader's ability to successfully employ multidetector CT imaging protocols for evaluation of TBM in infants and children in daily clinical practice.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Child
  • Child, Preschool
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Infant
  • Infant, Newborn
  • Male
  • Radiographic Image Enhancement / methods*
  • Tomography, X-Ray Computed / methods*
  • Tracheobronchomalacia / diagnostic imaging*