Therapeutic bronchoscopy improves spirometry, quality of life, and survival in central airway obstruction

Kamran Mahmood*, Momen M. Wahidi, Samantha Thomas, Angela Christine Argento, Neil A. Ninan, Emily C. Smathers, Scott L. Shofer

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

37 Scopus citations


Background: Central airway obstruction (CAO) occurs in patients with primary or metastatic lung malignancy and nonmalignant pulmonary disorders and results in significant adverse effects on respiratory function and quality of life. Objectives: The objective of this study was to assess the effect of therapeutic bronchoscopic interventions on spirometry, dyspnea, quality of life, and survival in patients with CAO. Methods: We prospectively studied patients who underwent therapeutic rigid bronchoscopy for CAO. Spirometry, San Diego Shortness of Breath questionnaire (SOBQ), and SF-36 questionnaire responses were obtained before the procedure and at follow-up 6-8 weeks after the procedure. Results: Fifty-three patients (24 malignant and 29 nonmalignant CAO), who underwent successful rigid bronchoscopic intervention, were enrolled. Airway stent placement and various debulking techniques including mechanical debridement and heat therapy were used. After bronchoscopy, there was a significant increase in forced vital capacity (2.2 ± 0.91 l before, 2.7 ± 0.80 l after, p = 0.009) and forced expiratory volume at 1 s (1.4 ± 0.60 l before, 1.8 ± 0.67 l after, p = 0.002). The SOBQ score improved from 55.8 ± 30.1 before the procedure to 37.9 ± 27.25 after the procedure (p = 0.002). In the SF-36, there was an improvement in almost all domains, with statistically significant improvement seen in several domains. Benefits were seen independent of the etiology of CAO, site of intervention or stent placement. The patients with malignant CAO, in whom airway patency could not be achieved, had a poor survival. Conclusions: Alleviation of CAO with therapeutic rigid bronchoscopy results in improvement in spirometry, shortness of breath, quality of life, and survival.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)404-413
Number of pages10
Issue number5
StatePublished - Jun 1 2015


  • Central airway obstruction
  • Quality of life
  • Therapeutic bronchoscopy
  • Tracheobronchial stent
  • Transplantation, lung

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pulmonary and Respiratory Medicine

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