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Early tracheal stenosis causing extubation failure and prolonged ventilator dependency

Respiratory Intensive Care Unit, Yedikule Teaching and Research Hospital, Istanbul, Turkey


Postintubation stenosis is the most frequent cause of benign tracheal stenosis and may cause reintubation and delay in weaning of intensive care unit patients. This case study describes typical patients with tracheal stenosis and the management of these patients. Five patients requiring reintubation and mechanical ventilation due to early intubation-related stenosis are discussed. Stridor developed in three cases after extubation. In these cases, bronchoscopy revealed tracheal stenosis. Dilatation and silicone stent placement were performed using rigid bronchoscopy. The other two patients were on ventilators when they were admitted to the intensive care unit and their stenoses were also treated by rigid bronchoscopy. Hypercapnia and hypoxia resolved after intervention in three cases. Of the remaining two patients, one had the tracheostomy closed and in the other patient ventilation was stopped but the tracheostomy was maintained. Tracheal stenosis developing in the subglottic region after extubation, especially after exposure to cuff pressure, may lead to reintubation. A tracheostomy may hinder the diagnosis of progressive stenosis and may lead to unnecessary maintenance of ventilator treatment. Early intubation-related tracheal stenosis should therefore be considered in cases of weaning or extubation failure and prompt appropriate investigation and treatment.

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