Functional evaluation before and after interventional bronchoscopy in patients with malignant central airway obstruction
Rigid or flexible interventional bronchoscopy is increasingly accepted for treating central tracheal or bronchial obstruction caused by incurable pulmonary malignancy. Immediate and sustained symptomatic relief and improvement of quality of life can be offered to patients suffering from dyspnoea and facing death by suffocation. Selection of patients based on functional aspects is of central importance for success in endoscopic treatment. A thorough workup is conducted with close cooperation between the various specialists involved in thoracic oncology (pulmonologist, oncologist, radio-oncologist, thoracic and upper airway surgeon). Careful history taking, clinical examination, pulmonary function testing (PFT) and radiologic imaging are needed to assess the general condition of the patient and give information of type and stage of the underlying malignancy. In eligible patients, timing and method of the intervention depend on the acuteness of the presentation and the endoscopic assessment of the lesion responsible for the obstruction. Regular postinterventional follow-up should be conducted by the patient's doctor and consist of clinical examination, PFT and chest radiography. Close cooperation with the specialist centre is necessary to refer patients for repeat bronchoscopy and management of suspected recurrences or complications.