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Subfreezing versus room-temperature balloon dilation of benign tracheal stenosis: A pilot study in rabbits

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April 18, 2013
by Benjamin J. Wycherly, MD; Matthew K. Steehler, MD; Hosai Hesham, MD; Kevin Burke, MD; Sonya Malekzadeh, MD


We conducted an experiment to compare collagen deposition in tracheal stenoses dilated with room-temperature balloons and stenoses dilated with balloons at a subfreezing temperature (-10°C). Six New Zealand white rabbits underwent endoscopic tracheal injury. Tracheal dilation was performed at 3 weeks postinjury with either a room-temperature balloon or a vascular cryoplasty balloon. Five surviving rabbits were sacrificed at either 2 weeks (n = 3) or 4 weeks (n = 2) postdilation (1 rabbit that was not able to tolerate dilation was euthanized during the procedure). A blinded pathologist graded histologic sections of the injured tracheas for collagen content. The tracheal collagen deposits in the 3 animals sacrificed at 2 weeks postdilation were all graded as moderate. However, at the 4-week postdilation examination, there was a marked difference in collagen deposition between the rabbit that underwent room-temperature dilation and the rabbit that underwent subfreezing dilation; while the former showed moderate collagen deposition, the deposition in the latter was only mild. In conclusion, this pilot study showed that tracheal dilation with balloon cryotherapy decreased collagen deposition in the injured airway of 1 animal. Larger studies are required to determine whether balloon cryotherapy improves the long-term patency of immature tracheal stenosis.

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