Paediatric tracheobronchomalacia : incidence, patient characteristics, and predictors of surgical intervention

Williamson, Andrew and Young, David and Clement, William Andrew (2022) Paediatric tracheobronchomalacia : incidence, patient characteristics, and predictors of surgical intervention. Journal of Pediatric Surgery, 57 (11). pp. 543-549. ISSN 0022-3468 (

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Objectives: Tracheobronchomalacia (TBM), a condition where an abnormality of the tracheal walls causes collapse during the respiratory cycle, is a common cause of airway obstruction in childhood. TBM can present with a large spectrum of disease severity and underlying pathologies that may be managed medically and surgically, and it is not always clear which patients would most benefit from surgical intervention. We aim to describe the incidence, patient characteristics, and predictors of surgical intervention in a large cohort of paediatric patients. Methods: We performed a retrospective review of all children diagnosed with TBM to a paediatric Otolaryngology unit in the west of Scotland between 2010 and 2020. Odds ratios for clinical predictors of surgery were calculated using logistic regression with uni- and multivariate analysis. Results: 249 patients were identified of which 219 proceeded to data collection. Primary malacia was noted in 161 (73.5%) and secondary in 58 (26.5%). Causes of secondary malacia included compression by the innominate artery (11%) and vascular rings (7.8%). Surgical interventions were performed in 28 patients (12.8%) including division of vascular ring, aortopexy, and surgical tracheostomy. Multivariate analysis showed secondary TBM, acute life-threatening events, and difficulty weaning from mechanical ventilation were independent risk factors for surgical intervention. Conclusions: TBM can present with a myriad of airway symptoms and is frequently associated with other airway and mediastinal pathologies necessitating multiple interventions. Children aged <1 year present with a more severe form of the disease and the presence of particular independent risk factors may indicate a need for surgical intervention. Level of evidence: 4