An Innovative Solution for Prolonged Air Leaks: The Customized Endobronchial Silicone Blocker

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Abstract

Background:

Prolonged air leak (PAL) is a life-threatening condition that can present either as bronchopleural fistula, or alveolar-pleural fistula (APF). Although numerous bronchoscopic treatments are described, they are either expensive, not widely available in the developing world or have limited success. We describe our experience with a novel customized endobronchial silicone blocker (CESB) for PAL treatment.

Methods:

This is a retrospective study of PAL patients who underwent CESB placement. The air leak was localized using a balloon occlusion test. The CESB was uniquely designed by molding silicone stent pieces into a conical shape, deployed with rigid bronchoscopy into the appropriate segment, and reinforced with cyanoacrylate glue to prevent migration. In patients with APF, pleurodesis was performed after leak resolution to prevent recurrence. Following this, the CESB was removed after 6 weeks.

Results:

Forty-nine CESBs were placed in 31 patients (25 male individuals, 6 female individuals) with mean age of 49.7±19.7 years. The PALs included APF (n=16), bronchopleural fistula (n=14), and airway-mediastinal fistula (n=1). The average diameter of the CESB used was 7.9±2.9 mm. There was resolution of the PAL in 26 of 31 patients (84%). The CESB migrated in 5 patients with no adverse events. Pleurodesis was performed in 13 of 16 patients with APF, to prevent recurrence. No other significant complications were observed.

Conclusions:

CESBs represent a safe, effective, and innovative approach in the management of PAL. They should be considered in patients who are not surgical candidates, fail surgery, or those who have a recurrence following surgery.

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