Conservative treatment for postintubation tracheobronchial rupture

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Background.Postintubation tracheobronchial rupture is usually responsible for unstable intraoperative or postoperative conditions, and its management is discussed. We insist on conservative treatment as a viable alternative after late diagnosis of postintubation tracheobronchial rupture.Methods.We conducted a retrospective study including 14 consecutive patients treated between April 1981 and July 1998.Results.Twelve tracheobronchial ruptures occurred after intubation for general surgery and two after thoracic surgery. In all cases, the tear consisted of a linear laceration of the posterior membranous wall of the tracheobronchial tree ranging from 2 to 6 cm. One death occurred in a very weak patient unfit to undergo a redo operation for surgical repair. Seven patients were treated conservatively and cured without sequelae. Six patients underwent surgical repair, of whom 2 were diagnosed and repaired intraoperatively.Conclusions.Aggressive surgical repair is not always mandatory after delayed diagnosis of iatrogenic tracheobronchial rupture. Conservative treatment must often be considered, except after lung resection.

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