Causes and risk factors
Diseases of the trachea can be congenital, inflammatory, neoplastic, or post-traumatic. Extremely rare congenital diseases occur soon after birth and are often associated with other congenital malformations. Inflammatory tracheal stenosis occurs, although rarely, in patients who are intubated during general anesthesia during surgery or after a tracheotomy. Other inflammatory strictures are caused by diseases of the immune system, such as Wegener's syndrome, or strictures of unknown cause, defined as idiopathic. Benign and malignant tumors originating from the trachea itself or from adjacent organs such as the esophagus, thyroid, and lungs are also rare. Finally, the trachea can be damaged as a result of neck or chest trauma or trauma from intubation during general anesthesia.
Which are the symptoms?
Diseases of the trachea usually cause a contraction of the respiratory space and, therefore, occur mainly with progressive dyspnea, which is often initially mistaken for asthma, possibly associated with coughing up blood. Accurate pneumologic assessment using spirometry can distinguish between the two pathologies and guide the patient towards correct diagnostic and therapeutic assessment.
How is it diagnosed?
How is it treated?
The first step in the treatment of tracheal diseases is an accurate diagnosis, which allows to determine the type of tracheal injury, its extent and location. To this end, endoscopic and radiological evaluation by computed tomography using three-dimensional reconstructions is fundamental. After determining the type of lesion and its characteristics, the choice of treatment can be conservative, using flexible and rigid bronchoscopy, possibly using a laser and endotracheal or surgical prostheses. The combination of conservative and surgical treatment available at our center, which is the national benchmark for the treatment of these pathologies, allows extremely favorable results with complete recovery in a large percentage of cases. In the case of malignant tumors of the trachea, endoscopic or surgical treatment may involve cancer treatments such as radiation therapy and chemotherapy, which are coordinated by the cancer service.