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Flexible bronchoscopy balloon dilation

Henri G Colt, MD
Section Editor
Praveen N Mathur, MB;BS
Deputy Editor
Geraldine Finlay, MD


Benign tracheobronchial stenosis of the proximal airways can result from a variety of conditions and can cause dyspnea, cough, wheeze, stridor, or recurrent pulmonary infections. A variety of modalities may be used to manage benign airway strictures, but none is documented to be uniformly effective [1-5]. The technique of flexible balloon dilation for treating benign airway strictures (bronchoplasty) will be reviewed here. Other techniques for treating these lesions are discussed separately. (See "Clinical presentation, diagnostic evaluation, and management of central airway obstruction in adults".)

The successful use of a balloon to dilate a benign airway stricture was first reported in an 18-week infant with a post-surgical stricture [6]. Several uses of the technique were reported in the following years for strictures related to prolonged intubation [7], sleeve resection with bronchial reimplantation [8], endobronchial granuloma due to an aspirated pill fragment, and recurrent squamous cell carcinoma following radiation therapy [9].

These initial reports utilized fluoroscopy or rigid bronchoscopy to guide the dilation procedure. Flexible bronchoscopy with balloon dilation was not described until 1991 [10], and since that time relatively few reports with small numbers of patients have been published [11-19].


Subacute airway compromise results most commonly as a complication of bronchogenic carcinoma, but balloon dilation provides only limited palliation in this setting [20]. However, the technique is useful in the treatment of benign strictures due to a number of conditions, including:

Sequelae of long-term endotracheal intubation or tracheotomy [12]

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Literature review current through: Nov 2017. | This topic last updated: Aug 23, 2017.
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