Diseases of the trachea are complex and require a multidisciplinary approach. The Department of Thoracic Surgery at Baylor University Medical Center coordinates care between our thoracic surgeons, interventional pulmonologists, head and neck surgeons, radiologists, anesthesiologists, and pathologists to determine the optimal strategy for each individual patient.
We treat a variety of disease affecting the trachea, including benign conditions like tracheal stenosis and trachael inflammation as well as malignant conditions like tumors and cancer.
Treatments range from the administration of medication (such as chemotherapy) or radiation, to endoscopic interventions, to open surgery. Our physicians are constantly trialing new products and techniques to stay on the cutting edge of tracheal medicine, and often will provide therapy to patients deemed untreatable at other centers.
Endoscopic interventions, which use no incisions and have minimal side effects, can be performed for treatment or symptom relief. These interventions include:
- Tumor resection
Open tracheal surgery is complex, and requires a specialized center and a highly trained team. The surgeons in the Department of Thoracic at Baylor University Medical Center all underwent advanced training in airway surgery, which is only performed a select centers in the country.
Surgery on the trachea involves removal (resection) of the diseased segment followed by reattachment of the ends of the airway (reconstruction). This is the preferred method of treating cancerous diseases, as well as benign diseases that have not responded to less-invasive techniques. Sometimes there is a need for a temporary or permanent tracheostomy, a surgically created opening in the neck for breathing.
Surgical resection and reconstruction is most often done through an incision in the neck, but occasionally requires extension of the incision into the chest through a sternotomy, or dividing the upper part of the breast bone. Diseases of the lower airway, or bronchi, can be approached through the side of the chest, dividing the muscle between the ribs (thoracotomy), and sometimes can be performed in a minimally invasive fashion (video-assisted thoracic surgery, VATS).