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Respiration. 2011;82(6):509-14. doi: 10.1159/000330838. Epub 2011 Sep 23.

Thin bronchoscope for evaluating stenotic airways during stenting procedures.

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Department of Respiratory Medicine, Nagoya Medical Center, Nagoya, Japan.



Flexible bronchoscopy can play an important role in the evaluation of an airway lumen during therapeutic bronchoscopic procedures. Despite its potential usefulness, however, evaluation with a standard-sized bronchoscope, which cannot pass completely through a severely stenosed airway, is often unsatisfactory.


This study aimed to evaluate the usefulness of prototype thin bronchoscopes for assessing stenotic airways during stenting procedures.


Forty-six patients with central airway stenosis requiring stent implantation were enrolled in this prospective study. After inserting a rigid bronchoscope under general anesthesia, a flexible bronchoscopic evaluation using a 5.9- or 6.0-mm standard bronchoscope was performed, followed by evaluation using a prototype 3.4- or 3.5-mm thin bronchoscope for airways beyond the site of stenosis, which could not be visualized by the standard bronchoscope.


A standard bronchoscope could not pass through the stenotic airway in 15 of 46 patients (33%). On univariate analysis, the grade of stenosis (p < 0.001), the presence or absence of atelectasis (p = 0.04) and the presence or absence of viscous secretions (p = 0.02) were related to the rate of successful passage by a standard bronchoscope. On multivariate analysis, only the grade of stenosis remained independently associated with the success rate. In 12 of the 15 patients (80%), the airway lumen beyond the stenotic lesion, which could not be reached by a standard bronchoscope, was successfully visualized and evaluated with a thin bronchoscope. No significant complications were associated with the procedures.


The thin bronchoscope can be a useful tool for evaluating a severely stenosed airway during the stenting procedure.

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