Tracheomalacia is associated with lower FEV1 and Pseudomonas acquisition in children with CF

Pediatr Pulmonol. 2014 Oct;49(10):960-70. doi: 10.1002/ppul.22922. Epub 2013 Oct 25.


Background: Tracheomalacia (TM) occurs in approximately 1 in 2,100 children. Because the trachea develops abnormally in animal models of cystic fibrosis (CF), we hypothesized this may also occur in children with CF, increasing their risk of TM.

Purpose: To examine the prevalence and clinical consequences of TM in children with CF.

Methods: We studied children with CF born between 1995 and 2012. TM was defined as dynamic collapse of the trachea, and the severity was recorded as described in the chart. The effect of TM on patient outcomes, including FEV1 , CT changes, and acquisition of CF pathogens, was assessed using a longitudinal patient dataset.

Results: Eighty-nine percent of children with CF had at least one bronchoscopy (n = 97/109). Fifteen percent of these children had TM described in any bronchoscopy report (n = 15/97). Of the patients with TM, eight had meconium ileus (P = 0.003) and all were pancreatic insufficient. Pseudomonas aeruginosa infection occurred 1.3 years earlier among children with TM (P = 0.01). Starting FEV1 values by age 8 were diminished by over 18% of predicted for patients with TM. Life-threatening episodes of airway obstruction occurred in 3 of 15 patients with CF and TM, including one leading to death. Gender, prematurity, and hepatic disease were not associated with TM. No difference was observed in the frequency of bronchiectasis.

Conclusions: TM is significantly more common in infants and children with CF than in the general population and is associated with airway obstruction and earlier Pseudomonas acquisition.

Keywords: airway; bronchoscopy; cystic fibrosis; infant; meconium ileus; obstructive lung disease; pediatric; tracheomalacia.

MeSH terms

  • Airway Obstruction / complications
  • Cohort Studies
  • Cystic Fibrosis / complications*
  • Female
  • Forced Expiratory Volume*
  • Humans
  • Infant
  • Male
  • Pseudomonas Infections / complications*
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Tracheomalacia / complications*