There are significant variations in how therapeutic bronchoscopy for malignant airway obstruction is performed. Relatively few studies have compared how these approaches affect the incidence of complications.
We used the American College of Chest Physicians (CHEST) Quality Improvement Registry, Evaluation, and Education (AQuIRE) program registry to conduct a multicenter study of patients undergoing therapeutic bronchoscopy for malignant central airway obstruction. The primary outcome was the incidence of complications. Secondary outcomes were incidence of bleeding, hypoxemia, respiratory failure, adverse events, escalation in level of care, and 30-day mortality.
Fifteen centers performed 1,115 procedures on 947 patients. There were significant differences among centers in the type of anesthesia (moderate vs deep or general anesthesia, P < .001), use of rigid bronchoscopy (P < .001), type of ventilation (jet vs volume cycled, P < .001), and frequency of stent use (P < .001). The overall complication rate was 3.9%, but significant variation was found among centers (range, 0.9%-11.7%; P = .002). Risk factors for complications were urgent and emergent procedures, American Society of Anesthesiologists (ASA) score > 3, redo therapeutic bronchoscopy, and moderate sedation. The 30-day mortality was 14.8%; mortality varied among centers (range, 7.7%-20.2%, P = .02). Risk factors for 30-day mortality included Zubrod score > 1, ASA score > 3, intrinsic or mixed obstruction, and stent placement.
Use of moderate sedation and stents varies significantly among centers. These factors are associated with increased complications and 30-day mortality, respectively.