Endobronchial interventions including the deployment of endobronchial stents have a clear role in the management of central airway problems. The use of endobronchial stents has rapidly increased since the first airway stent was developed in the 1960s and with the subsequent manufacture of improved silicone and metallic stents. They provide effective relief for symptoms of intrinsic and extrinsic airway obstruction secondary to a wide range of pathologies including lung cancer, lymphoma, thyroid carcinoma and benign disease such as tracheal strictures and tracheobronchomalacia. Endobronchial stents can also seal defects within the airway including malignant broncho-oesophageal fistulae and posterior wall tracheal tears. They can be placed safely under conscious sedation at flexible bronchoscopy or under general anaesthetic at rigid bronchoscopy. Rigid bronchoscopy under general anaesthesia provided by a multidisciplinary team is safe with few contraindications. Complications of endobronchial stents include infection, granulation tissue formation and metallic stent fracture sometimes requiring removal, although serious life-threatening complications are very rare. Increasing numbers of patients are being referred to specialist centres for airway intervention. This article reviews the history of endobronchial stents, the different stents available, and the indications, outcomes and complications involved in deploying endobronchial stents.
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Competing interests None.
Provenance and Peer review Not commissioned; externally peer reviewed.
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