Feasibility and Safety of Flexible Bronchoscopy Performed Via Tracheal Tubes in Patients With Tracheostomies: A Retrospective, Single-Center Experience

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Background:Flexible bronchoscopy (FB) is commonly performed to assess, diagnose, and treat patients with respiratory disease, and is typically performed via transnasal or transoral approaches. FB can be performed via tracheal tubes in patients with tracheostomies; however, the safety and technical feasibility has not been established. The present study evaluates the safety and feasibility of performing FB via tracheal tubes.Materials and Methods:A total of 45 patients underwent 56 procedures involving FB via tracheal tubes at a single institution from November 2013 to November 2014 and were included in this retrospective case series.Results:Patients had a median age of 68 years (interquartile range, 56 to 82.5), and 51% were female. Most patients had 2 comorbidities (interquartile range, 1 to 3), with the most common being hypertension, diabetes mellitus, and chronic kidney disease. Upper airway obstruction was the primary indication for bronchoscopy in 40% of patients. Fifty-three percent of patients had a Shiley tube #6, [internal cannula diameter (ICD) of 6.5 mm]; tracheal tubes in the remaining patients ranged from Shiley #4 (ICD, 5.5 mm) to Shiley #8 (ICD, 8.5 mm). One patient did not complete the procedure due to severe hypertension (intraprocedural systolic blood pressure >180 mm Hg). During FB, no patients experienced cardiorespiratory arrest, arrhythmia, bleeding, or desaturation that required resuscitation. Eleven patients had a mucus plug leading to atelectasis during bronchoscopy, and 8 of these had a postprocedural chest x-ray finding of lung reexpansion.Conclusion:FB via tracheal tubes is a technically feasible and safe procedure that does not compromise patient oxygenation.

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