Cardiovascular and Thoracic Surgery

Diseases of the Airway

Procedures such as tracheal resection and reconstruction,and tracheal ballooning and stenting for obstructive airway disease are offered at UTMB.

Tracheal Resection and Reconstruction

During a tracheal resection, our surgeons remove the constricted section of the trachea and then rejoin the upper and lower sections. This is usually a very successful treatment for stenosis (narrowing), with excellent long-term results.

Bronchoscopic Tracheal Dilation

Widening of the trachea, either with a balloon or surgical instruments called tracheal dilators, provides temporary relief of symptoms and allows our experts to determine how much of the trachea is affected by the stenosis (narrowing). During the dilation procedure, we can also diagnose the cause of the stenosis if it is not already known.


The purpose of airway stenting is to relieve airway obstruction caused by strictures not suitable for resection and reconstruction.

Although surgical correction is always preferred when technically feasible and when the clinical status of the patient permits, stenting provides a reliable alternative in selected cases and helps to improve quality of life in non-surgical patients. Modern stents improve air flow while preserving the voice without the need for tracheostomy in most cases.

Tracheo-bronchial stenting has been extensively performed to improve airflow for the following conditions (that occur near to the airway):

  • Lung cancer
  • Primary airway tumors
  • Esophageal cancer
  • Thyroid cancer
  • Head and Neck tumors
  • Metastases
  • Post-intubation and idiopathic (a disease or condition the cause of which is not known or that arises spontaneously) benign tracheal stenosis
  • Inflammatory lesions
  • Abnormal softening of tracheobronchial tissues
  • Vascular compression

It is of paramount importance to work with a dedicated team of anesthesiologists and nurses familiar with the endoscopic maneuvers and the equipment required; this will facilitate the procedure especially in critical situations.