Flexible bronchoscopy: a safe method for metal stent implantation in bronchial disease

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Background.Endoscopic bronchoplastic procedures, such as metal stent implantation, are for safety reasons and mainly performed using rigid bronchoscopy. Major complications, such as bleeding and accidental airway occlusion, are thought to be better managed with the rigid device. An increasing number of pneumologists, however, use the flexible fiberscope for endobronchial stenting.Methods.Sixty-five stent implantations were performed in 51 patients with flexible fiberoptic bronchoscopy. We implanted 27 Tantalum Strecker stents (Boston Scientific Co, Watertown, MA), 20 Nitinol Accuflex stents (Boston Scientific Co) and 18 Wallstents (Schneider, Zurich, Switzerland). Underlying conditions were malignant disease in 84% and benign bronchial collapse in 16%. Sites of implantation were the trachea (45%), the main bronchi (35%), and other locations (20%). In 47 cases the patients received intravenous sedation combined with high frequency jet ventilation, and in 18 cases the patients were treated with topical anesthesia alone.Results.Mean examination time was 58.3 (standard deviation 29.1) minutes. Eighty percent of patients experienced immediate clinical improvement in respiratory symptoms. Spirometric parameters (forced expiratory volume in one second, peak expiratory flow rate, forced vital capacity) increased. Complications included hypertension (17%), hypotension (12%), hypoxia (5%), bronchospasm (4%), initial displacement of the prosthesis (11%), and diameter mismatch between stent and bronchus (5%). All complications were managed safely. Relevant bleeding or asphyxia during the procedure has not been observed. Late stent migration was observed in 12% of cases. There were 3 fatalities within 30 days of stent placement which, however, were not attributed to the implantation technique.Conclusions.Flexible fiberoptic bronchoscopy is a safe and suitable method to perform endobronchial metal stent implantation. Complications were rare and not serious. Initial misplacement of the prosthesis occurred in some cases and necessitated removal and replacement within the same procedure.

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