Management of malignant central airway obstruction

Venu G. Pasricha, David M. DiBardino, Kevin C. Ma


Malignant central airway obstructions (MCAOs) generally consist of lesions occupying a large percentage of the luminal wall within the trachea, mainstem bronchi, bronchus intermedius, or lobar bronchus. These obstructions can often be dangerous and debilitating, causing serious hemodynamic instability and severe reduction in quality of life. Advanced bronchoscopic techniques offer an ability to tackle these lesions in an attempt to restore airway patency while simultaneously improving hemodynamic stability and alleviating symptoms. A large number of bronchoscopic therapies are available to date. Choice of a modality is widely dependent on the clinical picture and type of obstruction at hand. Therefore, this review focuses on the developments made in the field of interventional pulmonology, providing insight into possible advanced bronchoscopic therapies to combat these MCAOs.