Author(s): Ford JM, Shields JA
The anesthetic management of patients undergoing tracheoesophageal fistula repair often involves lung separation, usually selective bronchial intubation with a double-lumen endotracheal tube. However, in patients with airway fistulas arising below the tracheal lumen, selective lung ventilation and separation may require unusual methods of airway management. In the patient described in this report, the airway fistulas involved the distal 3 cm of the trachea, approximately half of the left main bronchus 1.5 cm beyond the carina, and the proximal 0.5 cm of the right main bronchus. To separate and ventilate the lungs during the repair of these large and complex airway fistulas, 2 individual Mallinckrodt microlaryngeal endotracheal tubes were used. While lung separation was achieved, contrary to previous reports, the Mallinckrodt's larger and more tapered cuff made positioning in the left main bronchus an ongoing issue that required the use of a conventional endotracheal tube and, eventually, intubation of the bronchus from the surgical field. Future cases involving complex airway fistulas should consider endotracheal tube limitations and other methods of providing ventilation such as high-frequency jet ventilation or cardiopulmonary bypass.