Article Abstract

Does less surgical trauma result in better outcome in management of iatrogenic tracheobronchial laceration?

Authors: Dominik Herrmann, Jan Volmerig, Ahmad Al-Turki, Monique Braun, Anke Herrmann, Santiago Ewig, Erich Hecker

Abstract

Background: Iatrogenic tracheobronchial injury is a rare, but severe complication of endotracheal intubation. Risk factors are emergency intubation, percutaneous dilatational tracheostomy and intubation with double lumen tube. Regarding these procedures, underlying patients often suffer from severe comorbidities. The aim of this study was to evaluate the results of a standardized treatment algorithm in a referral center with focus on the surgical approach.
Methods: Sixty-four patients with iatrogenic tracheal lesion were treated in our department by standardized management adopted to clinical findings between 2003 and 2019. Patients with superficial laceration were treated conservatively. In the case of transmural injury of the tracheal wall and necessity of mechanical ventilation, patients underwent surgery. We decided on a cervical surgical approach for lesions limited to the trachea. In case of involvement of a main bronchus we performed thoracotomy. Data were evaluated retrospectively.
Results: In 19 patients the tracheal lesion occurred in elective intubation and in 17 patients during emergency intubation. In 23 cases a tracheal tear occurred during percutaneous dilatational tracheostomy and in three patients at replacement of a tracheostomy tube. Two patients received laceration during bronchoscopy. Twenty-nine patients underwent surgery with cervical approach and 14 underwent thoracotomy. There was no difference in the mortality of these groups. Treatment of tracheal tear was successful in 62 individuals. Nine patients died of multi organ dysfunction syndrome (MODS), two of them during surgery.
Conclusions: Iatrogenic tracheal laceration is a life-threatening complication and the mortality after tracheal injury is high, even in a specialized thoracic unit. Conservative management in patients with superficial tracheal lesion is a feasible procedure. In case of complete laceration of tracheal wall, surgical therapy is recommendable, whereby several approaches of surgical management seem to be equivalent.

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