Tracheal Stenosis

The trachea, also known as the windpipe, is the passageway that brings air from the larynx to the lungs. Tracheal stenosis is a condition that narrows the trachea and makes it harder for oxygen to pass through. Some cases are mild and may not cause any problems, but others can lead to serious complications. There are several treatment options for this condition.

Causes of Tracheal Stenosis

Most cases of tracheal stenosis develop when the trachea is injured after prolonged intubation, when a breathing tube is inserted into the trachea to help maintain breathing during a medical procedure, or from a tracheostomy (surgical opening of the trachea). However, other conditions, traits or habits may also play a role in raising your risk for this disease. These conditions are known as risk factors and include:

Non-modifiable risk factors: These factors are irreversible and cannot be changed. The more of these risk factors you have, your chance of developing this disease.

  • Family history/genetics

Other conditions that contribute to tracheal stenosis

  • External injury to the throat
  • Benign or malignant tumor pressing on the windpipe
  • Autoimmune disease: a condition in which your immune system mistakenly attacks your body (e.g. lupus, rheumatoid arthritis and scleroderma).
  • Bacterial and fungal infections
  • Radiation therapy

Symptoms of Tracheal Stenosis

The symptoms of tracheal stenosis are similar to that of asthma and bronchitis, and it is sometimes misdiagnosed. Some common symptoms include:

  • Wheezing when breathing in
  • Shortness of breath
  • High pitched noises when breathing
  • Blue coloration of the skin, especially around the lips

Diagnosis of Tracheal Stenosis

When a patient starts showing symptoms of tracheal stenosis, providers will perform diagnostic tests. This usually begins with a physical exam and a review of the patient’s risk factors. The following tests may be performed:

Diagnostic tests and procedures

Treatment of Tracheal Stenosis

There are several treatment options that can be used for tracheal stenosis and the type of treatment used will depend on the cause, location and severity of the tracheal narrowing. Treatment options include:

Lifestyle changes

Medical and Surgical procedures

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