Thoracoscopic Posterior Tracheopexy Is a Feasible and Effective Treatment for Tracheomalacia

J Laparoendosc Adv Surg Tech A. 2019 Oct;29(10):1228-1231. doi: 10.1089/lap.2019.0156. Epub 2019 Jun 20.


Background: Posterior tracheomalacia is characterized by collapsibility of the posterior trachea and is often present in patients with congenital esophageal atresia (EA) with or without tracheoesophageal fistula (TEF). It can lead to a variety of symptoms from mild expiratory stridor and difficulty clearing secretions to severe respiratory distress, especially in the setting of increased work of breathing. Depending on the severity of symptoms, treatment ranges from medical therapy, including airway clearance techniques, aerosolized medications, and steroids to surgical treatment. The purpose of this study is to review our institution's experience with posterior tracheopexy. Materials and Methods: A retrospective review was conducted from 2017-2019 at a freestanding quaternary care children's hospital. Results: The analysis included 8 patients. The median age at surgery was 6 (range 3-8) years and 4 (50%) of cohort were male. The majority of patients (n = 6, 75%) had a history of prior EA and TEF repair and 3 (38%) had associated VACTERL anomalies. All patients demonstrated severe tracheomalacia on preoperative bronchoscopy with collapse of the posterior membrane. In regard to surgical approach, most cases (6/8, 75%) underwent thoracoscopic repair. The median operative time was 218 (193 thoracoscopic, 218 open) minutes. The median length of stay was 3 days, and 2 (25%) patients had a postoperative complication of chylothorax (1 thoracoscopic and 1 open), both of which resolved without invasive intervention. The current median length of follow-up is 3 months, and all patients reported symptomatic improvement. One patient who had initial symptomatic improvement has undergone repeat tracheopexy for recurrence. Conclusion: Posterior tracheopexy is an effective treatment option for symptoms associated with tracheomalacia. The thoracoscopic approach is feasible in experienced hands and with the support of a multidisciplinary team.

Keywords: posterior tracheopexy; thoracoscopic tracheopexy; tracheomalacia.

MeSH terms

  • Bronchoscopy
  • Child
  • Child, Preschool
  • Feasibility Studies
  • Female
  • Follow-Up Studies
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Recurrence
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Thoracoscopy / methods*
  • Trachea / diagnostic imaging
  • Trachea / surgery*
  • Tracheomalacia / diagnostic imaging
  • Tracheomalacia / surgery*
  • Treatment Outcome