Tracheal stenosis is a narrowing of your windpipe that makes it difficult to breathe. Most often, tracheal stenosis is caused by swelling and scar tissue buildup in your windpipe – either after having a breathing tube during surgery or after using a ventilator for an extended period. It can also be caused by:
- Autoimmune conditions, such as amyloidosis, papillomatosis, or sarcoidosis
- Congenital (present at birth) abnormality
- Damage to your throat after radiation therapy
- Infections, such as tuberculosis
- Injuries to your chest or throat
- Tracheal tumors, both noncancerous (benign) and cancerous
Tracheal stenosis or tumor symptoms can be similar to other conditions, so it's important to see your doctor and get the care you need. Symptoms may include:
- Bluish tint to the tissue inside of your nose and mouth
- Breathing problems, such as wheezing, shortness of breath, or asthma that doesn't respond to treatment
- Chest congestion
- Coughing or hoarseness
- Frequent upper-airway and lung infections, such as pneumonia
- High-pitched sound when breathing in air (stridor)
At the University of Miami Health System, our expert team is experienced at diagnosing and treating tracheal stenosis. You get complete care and benefit from the expertise of specialists in lung care, thoracic surgery, head and neck surgery, and imaging. You receive individual attention and personalized care from an experienced team.
This procedure uses a bronchoscope – a thin tube with a light and camera – to look inside your airways for narrowing or blockages, such as scar tissue or a tumor. In many instances, your doctor can use bronchoscopy to discover what’s causing your symptoms and provide treatment during the same procedure.
Lung Function Tests
Your doctor may use lung function tests to measure how much air your lungs can hold and how quickly air moves in and out of them. Tests may include spirometry, plethysmography, gas diffusion, or inhalation challenge tests.
A chest CT scan shows the inside of your chest and airways. The test may use dye, given as a shot, to show greater detail of the blood vessels. Your imaging technologist may have you inhale and exhale during the test (dynamic 3D chest scan).
Bronchoscopic Tracheal Dilation
This approach uses a bronchoscope inserted through your mouth or nose and into your throat. Your doctor inflates a balloon or uses a surgical instrument (tracheal dilator) to widen your airway. They may also place a tube (tracheobronchial airway stent) in your airway to hold it open.
If scar tissue or a tumor is blocking your airway, your doctor may focus a laser beam through the bronchoscope to burn it away. Your doctor can also use bronchoscopy with instruments, such as a mico-debrider, to eliminate tumors.
Using tracheal resection and reconstruction, your doctor can remove the narrowed area of your airway and connect the remaining ends. This procedure can improve breathing and relieve symptoms long term.
Why Choose UHealth?
Fast, accurate diagnosis. We offer the latest testing in our technologically advanced pulmonary function labs, including advanced diagnostic imaging. Our experienced teams and advanced equipment give us the highest quality results for a correct diagnosis.
Advanced, minimally invasive approaches to find and treat lung problems. Our interventional pulmonology specialists use a minimally invasive technique called bronchoscopy to help diagnose, stage, and repair lung problems. You have access to leading-edge approaches such as endobronchial ultrasound, electromagnetic navigation, bronchial thermoplasty, and stenting.
Get the latest treatment breakthroughs sooner. As an academic medical center, we offer the latest, proven approaches backed by the leading-edge research of the University of Miami Miller School of Medicine. Our medical and academic researchers are continually seeking better ways to find and treat airway and lung problems with ongoing research and clinical trials in asthma, cystic fibrosis, pulmonary fibrosis, and more.
Leaders in robotic surgery treatment. We have some of the world’s most experienced robotic surgeons for minimally invasive procedures. We were the first academic medical center in the world to get the da Vinci Xi robotic surgery system. Our surgeons have completed more than 5,000 robotic surgeries — procedures that offer less pain and scarring and a faster recovery.
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