Airway Rupture Caused by Double-Lumen Tubes: A Review of 187 Cases

Anesth Analg. 2020 Nov;131(5):1485-1490. doi: 10.1213/ANE.0000000000004669.


The double-lumen tubes (DLTs) are the most widely used devices to provide perioperative lung isolation. Airway rupture is a rare but life-threatening complication of DLTs. The primary aim of this review was to collect all cases reported in the literature about airway rupture caused by DLTs and to describe the reported possible contributors, diagnosis, treatment, and outcomes of this complication. Another aim of this review was to assess the possible factors associated with mortality after airway rupture by DLTs. A comprehensive literature search for all cases of airway rupture caused by DLTs was performed in the PubMed, EMBASE, Ovid, Wanfang Database, and CNKI. The extracted data included age, sex, height, weight, type of operation, type and size of DLT, site of airway rupture, possible contributors, clinical presentation, diagnosis timing, treatment, and outcome. We included 105 single case reports and 22 case series with a total number of 187 patients. Most of the ruptures were in the trachea (n = 98, 52.4%) and left main bronchus (n = 70, 37.4%). The common possible contributors include use of a stylet, cuff overdistention, multiple attempts to adjust the position of a DLT, difficult intubation, and use of an oversized DLT. Most of the airway ruptures were diagnosed intraoperatively (n = 138, 82.7%). Pneumomediastinum, air leakage, hypoxemia, and subcutaneous emphysema were the common clinical manifestations. Most patients were treated with surgical repair (n = 147, 78.6%). The mortality of the patients with airway rupture by DLTs was 8.8%. Age, sex, site of rupture, diagnosis timing, and method of treatment were not found to be associated with mortality.

Publication types

  • Systematic Review

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Airway Management / adverse effects*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Intraoperative Complications / epidemiology*
  • Intraoperative Complications / etiology
  • Intraoperative Complications / therapy*
  • Intubation, Intratracheal / adverse effects*
  • Intubation, Intratracheal / instrumentation
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Respiratory System / injuries*
  • Rupture