Experience with ultraflex expandable metallic stents in the management of endobronchial pathology

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Background.Experience with Ultraflex expandable metallic stents (Micro-invasive, Boston Scientific, Watertown, MA) in the management of endobronchial pathologies leading to airway compromise is reported.Methods.Between January 1999 and August 2000, twenty-eight expandable metallic stents were inserted into 25 patients (7 men and 18 women; median age, 65 years) who presented with respiratory distress. Each patient had comorbid medical conditions or end-stage malignancy that precluded formal surgical repair. Seventeen patients had intrinsic airway obstruction, 5 had extrinsic compression, 2 had a tracheal tear, and 1 had a tracheoesophageal fistula. Stents were inserted through a bronchoscope under direct vision. Eighteen patients received tracheal stents alone (1 of these patients received two tracheal stents), and 5 patients received bronchial stents only. Two patients received a tracheal and a bronchial stent. Twenty-one stents were covered and seven were uncovered.Results.All patients had successful stents with restoration of airway patency and closure of tracheal defects. One patient developed a respiratory infection early after the operation. Follow-up bronchoscopy confirmed satisfactory stent position in each patient. Late complications included sputum retention, halitosis, and granulation tissue formation.Conclusions.Ultraflex expandable metallic stents should be considered in the management of airway compromise in selected patients for whom formal surgical repair is inappropriate or contraindicated.

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