An intraluminal tracheal stent (ITS) was used experimentally in rabbits and piglets, as well as clinically in infants with tracheal stenosis, to facilitate airway reconstruction. The ITSs were constructed of stainless-steel springs covered with silicone rubber. They were implanted in seven piglets (6 to 8 kg), five rabbits (3 to 5 kg) and three infants. No animals developed severe respiratory distress and all appeared to tolerate the ITS. Postmortem examinations 1 to 8 weeks after surgery showed (1) loss of stent fixation (one pig), (2) increased tracheal secretions, (3) pneumonia (one pig, two rabbits), and (4) focal squamous metaplasia of tracheal mucosa. Stents used to treat three infants (2 to 5 months of age) with complex tracheobronchial stenosis were placed at the time of periosteal tracheoplasty in two. Recurrent stenosis necessitated a second tracheoplasty and stenting in one, and a long tracheostomy tube and balloon dilatations in the other. The third child had endoscopic stent insertion to alleviate severe airway collapse after esophageal tracheoplasty. The child died from progressive respiratory failure after stent dislodgment. Although the stents were well tolerated in animals and they enhanced critical ventilation of all pulmonary lobes in infants after tracheal reconstruction, certain modifications such as alternative methods of fixation, accommodation for tracheal growth, and reduction in tissue reactivity are necessary before further use of the ITS can be advocated.
- Tracheal stent
- congenital tracheal stenosis