Feasibility of Bioengineered Tracheal and Bronchial Reconstruction Using Stented Aortic Matrices

JAMA. 2018 Jun 5;319(21):2212-2222. doi: 10.1001/jama.2018.4653.


Importance: Airway transplantation could be an option for patients with proximal lung tumor or with end-stage tracheobronchial disease. New methods for airway transplantation remain highly controversial.

Objective: To establish the feasibility of airway bioengineering using a technique based on the implantation of stented aortic matrices.

Design, setting, and participants: Uncontrolled single-center cohort study including 20 patients with end-stage tracheal lesions or with proximal lung tumors requiring a pneumonectomy. The study was conducted in Paris, France, from October 2009 through February 2017; final follow-up for all patients occurred on November 2, 2017.

Exposures: Radical resection of the lesions was performed using standard surgical techniques. After resection, airway reconstruction was performed using a human cryopreserved (-80°C) aortic allograft, which was not matched by the ABO and leukocyte antigen systems. To prevent airway collapse, a custom-made stent was inserted into the allograft. In patients with proximal lung tumors, the lung-sparing intervention of bronchial transplantation was used.

Main outcomes and measures: The primary outcome was 90-day mortality. The secondary outcome was 90-day morbidity.

Results: Twenty patients were included in the study (mean age, 54.9 years; age range, 24-79 years; 13 men [65%]). Thirteen patients underwent tracheal (n = 5), bronchial (n = 7), or carinal (n = 1) transplantation. Airway transplantation was not performed in 7 patients for the following reasons: medical contraindication (n = 1), unavoidable pneumonectomy (n = 1), exploratory thoracotomy only (n = 2), and a lobectomy or bilobectomy was possible (n = 3). Among the 20 patients initially included, the overall 90-day mortality rate was 5% (1 patient underwent a carinal transplantation and died). No mortality at 90 days was observed among patients who underwent tracheal or bronchial reconstruction. Among the 13 patients who underwent airway transplantation, major 90-day morbidity events occurred in 4 (30.8%) and included laryngeal edema, acute lung edema, acute respiratory distress syndrome, and atrial fibrillation. There was no adverse event directly related to the surgical technique. Stent removal was performed at a postoperative mean of 18.2 months. At a median follow-up of 3 years 11 months, 10 of the 13 patients (76.9%) were alive. Of these 10 patients, 8 (80%) breathed normally through newly formed airways after stent removal. Regeneration of epithelium and de novo generation of cartilage were observed within aortic matrices from recipient cells.

Conclusions and relevance: In this uncontrolled study, airway bioengineering using stented aortic matrices demonstrated feasibility for complex tracheal and bronchial reconstruction. Further research is needed to assess efficacy and safety.

Trial registration: clinicaltrials.gov Identifier: NCT01331863.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Aorta / transplantation*
  • Autografts
  • Bioengineering / methods*
  • Bronchi / surgery*
  • Feasibility Studies
  • Female
  • Follow-Up Studies
  • Humans
  • Lung Neoplasms / surgery*
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Plastic Surgery Procedures / methods
  • Pneumonectomy
  • Stents*
  • Trachea / pathology
  • Trachea / surgery*
  • Tracheal Diseases / pathology
  • Tracheal Diseases / surgery*
  • Tracheal Stenosis / surgery

Associated data

  • ClinicalTrials.gov/NCT01331863