Airway complications after lung transplantation are a difficult to treat clinical entity. A subset of these patients develop progressive distal airway stenosis (DAS) and a total loss of lobar airways. Stents may be placed to prevent continued obstruction. However, there is little data to suggest stent placement provides durable airway patency or a reduction in the need for further interventions.
A retrospective cohort study was conducted using patients with DAS who underwent a variety of interventions. Demographic information and complications were described using nonparametric methods. Lung function at 1 year and bronchoscopies per month were compared between stented and nonstented patients using a Mann-Whitney test. For patients treated with stenting, bronchoscopies per month were compared before and after stenting using a Wilcoxon signed-rank test. Airway patency was compared between stented and nonstented patients using the Fischer exact test.
Eleven airways were identified as DAS phenotype, 5 of which were treated with stents. Within the stented airways, a trend toward an increase in bronchoscopies per month was seen after stent placement. Comparing the stented versus nonstented patients, there was no improvement in lung function, no reduction in bronchoscopies per month, and no difference in airway patency for stented patients.
Patients with DAS phenotypes that were treated with endobronchial stenting did not require less airway intervention or have greater final airway patency compared with the nonstented airways. Among the stented patients, the need for airway manipulation did not decrease after stent placement.