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What Is a Tracheal Stent?

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  • Written By: Jennifer Long
  • Edited By: Allegra J. Lingo
  • Last Modified Date: 08 October 2014
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A tracheal stent is one of many different types of stents that can be used to support tissue. For tracheal use, a stent can be used after a reconstructive surgery or when the trachea has collapsed and needs immediate temporary or permanent support. They are made from silicone or metal, and requires surgery to be inserted into the body.

The purpose of a tracheal stent is to provide support for the trachea and the surrounding tissue. This support helps keep the trachea open. Tracheal scarring, surgery, and collapse from a traumatic injury can all be reasons to use a stent. These stents are generally made from a type of metal or silicone.

A silicone tracheal stent is usually chosen for long term use. These stents are beneficial in part of a treatment plan for many diseases that affect the tracheal area, including bronchomalacia and tracheomalacia. Both of these conditions, which often occur more frequently in children, can cause malformations and pressure on the trachea. If the stent only needs to be temporarily placed, a silicone stent is also a more ideal choice.

Metal stents are usually a type of mesh metal design, and is primarily intended for long term use. The mesh design makes removing it more difficult in comparison to the silicone stent. Mucosa growth incorporates a metal stent.

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Placing a tracheal stent into the trachea is a surgical procedure. There are many different shapes and sizes of stents that can be chosen to suit each medical situation and the patient’s trachea size. Stents are generally placed while the patient is unconscious. Depending on the type of stent and its exact placement, the surgeon has two options in how to perform the procedure.

The first placement option is direct. A surgeon will make an incision. The stent is then slid into place through the incision and attached, either by sutures or fixtures. After placement, the incision is closed. This surgical option is most commonly used in emergency situations.

A type of scope, called a fluoroscope, is a second option for placing a tracheal stent. The fluoroscope goes down the throat through the patient's mouth. It is used to help the surgeon see the tracheal area and guide the stent into the position where it is needed. Guided scope placement is commonly used for cases that are not immediately life threatening, such as part of treatment for a tracheal disease.

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