Endobronchial Stents: Past, Present, and Future

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Tracheobronchial prostheses, known as airway stents, are used to palliate the effects of large airway obstruction. The most common types of stents in current clinical use are made of silicone or metallic wire. An ideal stent should possess several characteristics: (1) it should be easy to insert and remove, if necessary; (2) it should be available in different sizes to match the obstruction; (3) once placed, it should maintain its position without migration; (4) it should be firm enough to resist compressive forces, yet have sufficient elasticity to conform to the airway contours; (5) it should be made of inert material, so as not to irritate the airway, precipitate infection, or promote granulation tissue; (6) it should exhibit the same characteristics of the normal airway so that mobilization of secretions is not impaired. We do not yet have an ideal airway stent that combines the advantages of silicone and metal stents. In this article, the advantages and disadvantages of currently available stents are reviewed, and some thoughts on the future development of airway stenting will be mentioned.

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