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Review of adult tracheomalacia and its relationship with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease

Kandaswamy, Chitra; Balasubramanian, Vijay

Current Opinion in Pulmonary Medicine: March 2009 - Volume 15 - Issue 2 - p 113–119
doi: 10.1097/MCP.0b013e328321832d
Obstructive, occupational and environmental diseases: Edited by Basil Varkey

Purpose of review This review summarizes the literature on adult or acquired tracheobronchomalacia (TBM) and explores its association with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD).

Recent findings Dynamic imaging of central airways, a noninvasive test as effective as bronchoscopy to diagnose TBM, has increased the recognition of this disorder. Airway stabilization techniques using stents placed via bronchoscopy have also furthered the interest in TBM. The association of TBM with COPD is of growing interest particularly in the face of worldwide rise in COPD incidence. The pathobiology behind this condition may share significant common ground with COPD.

Summary Despite the lack of uniformly accepted diagnostic criteria and the uncertain correlation to clinical manifestations and course, technologic advances in imaging and interventional bronchoscopy have spurred clinicians' interest in TBM. In exploring the association of TBM and COPD, an intriguing consideration is whether TBM could be an extension of peripheral airway disease.

Division of Pulmonary and Critical Care, UCSF Fresno, Fresno, California, USA

Correspondence to Vijay P. Balasubramanian, MD, Assistant Professor of Medicine, Division of Pulmonary and Critical Care, UCSF Fresno, 2823, Fresno Street, Suite B, Fresno, CA 93721, USA E-mail:

© 2009 Lippincott Williams & Wilkins, Inc.