Tracheal dilation is performed to enlarge the airway in cases of subglottic stenosis and tracheal stenosis. Patients with these conditions complain of shortness of breath and dilation is a minimally invasive way of enlarging the airway.
Tracheal dilation is traditionally performed with a patient asleep in the operating room. A laryngoscope is placed to view the patients vocal cords.
Specialized balloons are inserted into the area of narrowing and then expanded. The constant pressure provides controlled radial pressure to expand narrowed areas.
Also used for dilation is serial enlargement with rigid dilators or bronchoscopes. The surgeon uses progressively larger dilators to increase the size of stenosis.
Using balloon dilation surgeons able to dilate the airway of select individuals with a patient awake. Lidocaine, or a local anesthetic, is used to numb the nose, mouth and throat. An endoscope is placed through a patient nose to identify the area of narrowing. A balloon is placed through the nose and through the area of narrowing. Water is used to fill the balloon which stretches the narrowing.
Tracheal dilation may not provide permanent results, and may not be successful for patients with long standing scars.
For cases in which tracheal dilation is not adequate, a tracheal resection or laryngotracheal reconstruction may be required.