Study objectives: To assess the efficacy and complications of interventional bronchoscopic techniques in treating airway stenosis due to tracheobronchial tuberculosis.
Design: Case series.
Setting: Respiratory care centers at two tertiary care referral teaching hospitals in Japan, Hiroshima City Hospital and Okayama Red Cross Hospital.
Patients and interventions: A total of 30 patients were admitted to the hospital with a diagnosis of tracheobronchial tuberculosis between January 1991 and January 2002. Of those 11 patients received interventional bronchoscopy, including stent placement, laser photoresection, argon plasma coagulation (APC), balloon dilatation, cryotherapy, and endobronchial ultrasonography (EBUS). One patient with complete bronchial obstruction underwent a left pneumonectomy.
Results: Six patients underwent stent placement after balloon dilatation, while the remaining five patients underwent only balloon dilatation. In six patients, Dumon stents were successfully placed to reestablish the patency of the central airways. Two patients first had Ultraflex stents implanted but had problems with granulation tissue formation and stent deterioration caused by metal fatigue due to chronic coughing. Dumon stents then were placed within the Ultraflex stents after the patient had received treatment with APC and mechanical reaming using the bevel of a rigid bronchoscope. In four patients, EBUS images demonstrated the destruction of bronchial cartilage or the thickening of the bronchial wall. The main complications of Dumon stents are migration and granulation tissue formation, necessitating stent removal, or replacement, and the application of cryotherapy to the granuloma at the edge of the stent.
Conclusion: Interventional bronchoscopy should be considered feasible for management of tuberculous tracheobronchial stenosis. Dumon stents seem to be appropriate, since removal or replacement is always possible. Ultraflex stents should not be used in these circumstances because removal is difficult and their long-term safety is uncertain. EBUS could provide useful information in evaluating the condition of the airway wall in cases of tracheobronchial tuberculosis with potential for bronchoscopic intervention.