alexa Tracheal ring-graft reinforcement in lieu of tracheostomy for tracheomalacia.
Pulmonology

Pulmonology

Journal of Pulmonary & Respiratory Medicine

Author(s): Cacciaguerra S, Bianchi A

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Abstract Three children with tracheomalacia had tracheal reinforcement with free three-quarter circumference ring grafts of autologous cartilage taken from the costal margin. A low cervical manubrium-splitting approach gave excellent access to the anterior mediastinum and the intrathoracic trachea in two children. The first child, a neonate with oesophageal atresia (OA) and tracheo-oesophageal fistula (TOF), had 11 grafts to support the whole of the trachea from the cricoid to the carina and never required a tracheostomy. For the first 5 years she had frequent pneumonic episodes and on one occasion bilateral pneumothoraces. These episodes and radiographic lung hyperinflation, attributed to distal bronchomalacia, have reduced spontaneously in frequency and severity. At 9 years of age she has a well-supported trachea with palpable cartilage rings in the cervical segment. The trachea has grown to approximately 75\% of expected normal size for her age. Another child with tracheomalacia related to innominate-artery compression and who presented with 'dying episodes' was completely relieved and resumed a normal life without a tracheostomy following insertion of four grafts to the intrathoracic trachea. He remains well and symptom-free 8 months postoperatively. A third child had cartilage-graft reinforcement of the lower cervical trachea, including the tracheostomy site, to achieve tracheostomy closure at 16 months of age. Five years later he continues to have a well-supported trachea showing acceptable growth. However, he has ongoing evidence of tracheo-bronchomalacia presenting as expiratory wheezing, lung hyperinflation, and pneumonic episodes that are diminishing spontaneously with growth. Our experience, limited to three children, recommends primary tracheal reinforcement with autologous free costal-cartilage grafts for tracheomalacia in the neonate and young infant. This procedure and the anterior mediastinal approach are well-tolerated, providing instant tracheal support, removing the need for a tracheostomy, and allowing the child's rapid return to the family. Long-term follow-up, presently 9 and 5 years in two children originally presenting with OA and TOF, indicates adequate tracheal growth and an aesthetically acceptable appearance. It is relevant to prognosis that relief of the life-threatening tracheal component exposed the full extent of the bronchial cartilaginous weakness, which has significantly detracted from the quality of life for these two children with OA and TOF-related tracheomalacia. This article was published in Pediatr Surg Int and referenced in Journal of Pulmonary & Respiratory Medicine

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