Management of blunt tracheobronchial trauma in the pediatric age group

Ballouhey, Q.; Fesseau, R.; Benouaich, V.; Lagarde, S.; Breinig, S.; Léobon, B.; Galinier, P.
April 2013
European Journal of Trauma & Emergency Surgery;Apr2013, Vol. 39 Issue 2, p167
Academic Journal
Introduction: Tracheobronchial rupture (TBR) due to blunt chest trauma is a rare but life-threatening injury in the pediatric age group. The aim of this study was to propose a treatment strategy including bronchoscopy, surgery and extracorporeal membrane oxygenation (ECMO) to optimize the emergency management of these patients. Methods: We reviewed a series of 27 patients with post-traumatic TBR treated since 1996 in our pediatric trauma center. Results: Seven cases had persistent and large volume air leaks. Flexible bronchoscopy was performed in cases of persistent or large volume air leaks. It permitted accurate visualization of the rupture and its extent. It allowed for a clear-cut positioning of the endotracheal tube. Five were managed operatively. Four cases were considered to be life-threatening because of the combination of severe respiratory distress with hemodynamic instability. One of them had severe tracheal laceration and died. Another one had bilateral bronchi disconnection. Based on clinical and endoscopic findings, surgical repair was performed using extracorporeal membrane oxygenation as a ventilatory support. It provided quick relief from the injury, which was previously expected to result in a fatal issue. Conclusions: Prompt diagnosis and accurate management of surviving patients admitted to emergency rooms are necessary. Bronchoscopy remains a critical diagnosis step. Surgery is warranted for large tracheobronchial tears and ECMO could be beneficial as supportive therapy for selected cases.


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