Radical resection of primary tracheal tumors may be challenging when more than one-half of the tracheal length is concerned. The present study evaluated the use of cryopreserved aortic allografts (CAAs) to replace long tracheal segments.
Sixteen adult minipigs underwent tracheal replacement with a CAA. A silicone stent was used to splint the CAA for the first 12 months. Animals were followed-up using bronchoscopic evaluation and killed at predetermined times, for a period up to 18 months long.
Intense inflammation and progressive disappearance of typical histologic structures of the aorta were seen within the first 3 months. All animals studied for more than 3 months showed progressive transformation of the graft into a chimerical conduit sharing aortic and tracheal histologic patterns (eg, islands of disorganized elastic fibers/mature respiratory ciliated epithelium, respiratory glands, islets of cartilage). Stent removal was attempted after 12 months in 10 animals, and critical tracheal stenosis was found in six animals and moderate asymptomatic stenosis in four. Clinical course in these latter animals was uneventful until they were killed at 15 to 18 months. In situ hybridization showed that collagen2a1 mRNA was expressed in the cartilage islets at 1 year. Polymerase chain reaction analysis of the SRY gene demonstrated that the newly formed cartilage cells derived from the host.
CAA may be considered as a valuable tracheal substitute for patients with extensive tracheal tumors. Prolonged stenting will be probably mandatory for the clinical application of the procedure in humans.