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Pathohistological changes of tracheal epithelium in laryngectomized patients

Abstract

Total laryngectomy results in a permanent disconnection of the upper and lower airways. Thus, the upper airways are bypassed and can no longer condition, humidify, and filter the inhaled air, leading to damage of the tracheobronchial epithelium. There is little scientific information available about the effects of tracheostoma breathing and the degree of mucosal damage in laryngectomized patients. The aims of this study were to determine the histopathologic findings and investigate the potential impact of using a heat and moisture exchanger (HME) on the tracheal epithelium in long-term tracheostomy patients. Tracheal mucosal biopsies were taken from a total of 70 patients. Specimens were stained with hematoxylin and eosin and examined by a light microscope. Normal pseudostratified ciliated columnar epithelium was found in only 9 (12.9 %) cases; while, 17 (24.3 %) cases had some degree of basal cell hyperplasia. Squamous metaplasia was the most common finding (50 %). Pre-invasive lesions (mild and moderate squamous dysplasia) were found in only one patient who used an HME, and in eight (11.4 %) non-users. Although the HME cannot completely restore the physiological functions of the upper respiratory track, it delivers a better quality of air to the lower airways and has a positive effect on tracheal mucosa.

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The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.

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Correspondence to Marinela Rosso.

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Rosso, M., Prgomet, D., Marjanović, K. et al. Pathohistological changes of tracheal epithelium in laryngectomized patients. Eur Arch Otorhinolaryngol 272, 3539–3544 (2015). https://doi.org/10.1007/s00405-014-3396-5

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Keywords

  • Laryngectomy
  • Heat and moisture exchanger
  • Pulmonary rehabilitation
  • Trachea