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Airway stenosis (airway narrowing) is a narrowing of the airway caused by malignant and benign tumors, congenital abnormalities, airway injury, endotracheal intubation, tracheostomy, autoimmune diseases, and infections. Most cases of tracheal stenosis develop as a result of prolonged intubation or from a prior tracheostomy.
Airway stenosis is named according to the location of the narrowing along the airway from the larynx or voice box (laryngotracheal stenosis) to the trachea (tracheal stenosis) and bronchi (bronchial stenosis).
We feature advanced imaging technology to create a 3-D reconstruction of the area of stenosis for better definition and treatment planning. We work closely with UT Southwestern pulmonologists, otolaryngologists, oncologists, and speech pathologists to deliver multidisciplinary and comprehensive care – all in one location, and usually in the same day.
Airway stenosis or narrowing or the trachea may result in:
- Coughing up phlegm or blood
- Frequent bouts of pneumonia
- Noisy breathing (stridor, wheezing)
- Shortness of breath
If we suspect that you have airway stenosis, we will conduct a physical examination and order studies to confirm the diagnosis.
Tests, procedures, and advanced imaging modalities provide the necessary information to evaluate and diagnose airway stenosis. These can include:
- Bronchoscopy, endobronchial ultrasound (EBUS), and other interventional lung procedures
- Chest X-rays (radiographs)
- Cardiac imaging studies
- Computed tomography (CT) with 3-D reconstructions
- Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI)
- Pulmonary laboratory studies
Our team of highly skilled thoracic surgeons uses a variety of state-of-the-art techniques, including tracheal reconstruction, to preserve the airway (larynx, trachea, and bronchi) and voice.
- Airway stenting: Use of a hollow tube to hold the trachea open
- Bronchoscopic and/or balloon dilation (expansion) of the trachea: To allow better airflow
- Laser bronchoscopy: Use of a laser to destroy abnormal tissue causing the stenosis or obstruction
- Removal or resection and reconstruction of the narrow portion of the trachea: The damaged portion of the airway is removed and the remaining ends are joined together
Our Thoracic Surgery team treats the full range of thoracic (chest) conditions that can be associated with airway stenosis. These include:
- Benign airway tumors
- Bronchial stenosis
- Carinal tumors and stenosis
- Malignant airway tumors
- Tracheobronchial injuries
- Tracheobronchial malacia
UT Southwestern conducts clinical trials aimed at improving the treatment of airway stenosis. Talk with your doctor to see if a clinical trial is right for you.
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