Elisabeth Bendstrup

Tracheal collapsibility in adults is dynamic over time

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  • Mette Nygaard, Department of Internal Medicine, Horsens Regional Hospital, Denmark. Electronic address: metnygch@rm.dk.
  • ,
  • Ole Hilberg, Medical Department, Vejle Hospital and University of Southern Denmark, Denmark.
  • ,
  • Finn Rasmussen
  • ,
  • Elisabeth Bendstrup

BACKGROUND: Tracheal collapse is a weakness of the tracheal wall leading to expiratory central airway collapse of more than 50% compared to inspiration. It has previously been discussed whether the collapsibility of the greater airways is a stable or a dynamic condition. Indeed, other well-known lung diseases such as asthma are characterized by dynamic changes with respect to pulmonary function indices. There are several different morphologies of the trachea related to collapsibility such as the crescent type and the saber-sheath type both involving the tracheal cartilage and excess dynamic airway collapse only involving the posterior membranous part of the trachea. Is the morphology of the trachea important for the course of the disease? The effect or adverse effects of inhaled corticosteroids are thought to play a role in the increasing incidence of the excess tracheal collapse. In this pilot study, we hypothesized that the excess collapsibility of the tracheal wall is dynamic.

METHODS: We prospectively examined 20 patients with excessive tracheal collapse on previous CT scans performed primarily due to bronchiectasis. A repeat CT scan was performed in order to evaluate the collapsibility. Before the repeat scan, patients were trained in maximal inspiration, expiration and breathholding. CT was performed in full inspiration and at end-expiration. Image assessment was performed on a dedicated CT workstation using standard lung window display settings. The percentage expiratory collapse based on cross sectional areas from carina to the thoracic inlet was calculated. Pulmonary function tests were performed and analysed in accordance with the American Thoracic Society and the European Respiratory Society guidelines.

RESULTS: Repeat CT scan were performed after 24 month +/- 7.2. Six of the 20 participants (30%) were males. Mean age was 67 +/- 11.3 years. Mean FEV1 was 83% of predicted, FVC 96.6 % of predicted and FEV1/FVC-ratio 71%. In 45% of the patients tracheal expiratory collapse improved (by more than 10%) based on percentage change in cross sectional areas in expiration compared to inspiration. 35% of patients showed disease progression with increased collapse and in 20% the collapsibility remained unchanged.

CONCLUSION: We demonstrate that the collapsibility in a large fraction of the patients had actually improved at the follow up examination. We do not find any dependency of the change in collapsibility on the morphology of the trachea after end expiration, use of corticosteroid, or recurrent infections. In addition, no correlation between the changes in collapse and changes in the pulmonary function tests and the symptoms is observed.

Original languageEnglish
JournalRespiratory Medicine
Pages (from-to)124-128
Number of pages5
Publication statusPublished - Jan 2019

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