• Vol. 41 No. 5, 205–211
  • 15 May 2012

Clinical and Radiological Manifestations of Primary Tracheobronchial Tumours: A Single Centre Experience



Introduction: Tracheobronchial tumours usually cause an airway obstruction and secondary pulmonary infections. Although rare, they are an important differential diagnosis as they may mimic other conditions and diseases. This paper aims to analyse clinical, radiological and histological characteristics of the patients with tracheobronchial tumours diagnosed for a period of 7 years.

Materials and Methods: In this retrospective, observational study, we carefully reviewed 65 patients who were diagnosed with tracheal and endobronchial tumours, and performed statistical analysis on the results.

Results: Among these 65 patients (36 men and 29 women) with a mean age of 48.8 years (range, 15 to 75), 50 had malignant tumours while 15 had benign ones. The most common symptoms were cough, chest pain and haemoptysis. Cough was a more frequent symptom in patients with benign tumours (P <0.0014). Only 2 patients were asymptomatic. Tumours were predominantly localised in the large airways (46 in large bronchi and 2 in trachea). The most common radiological manifestation of malignant tumours was tumour mass (46%) followed by atelectasis. One third benign tumour caused atelectasis, while tumour mass and consolidation were found in 3 patients each. Computerised tomography revealed endoluminal tumour mass in 29.2% of the cases, which was more frequently found in benign than malignant tumours (47% vs 24%, respectively). On bronchoscopy, tumours were visible in 73% and 70% benign and malignant cases respectively.

Conclusion: Tracheobronchial tumours should be ruled as a possible diagnosis in patients with cough, haemoptysis, dyspnoea and chest pain. The imaging techniques and histological examination of the tissue would subsequently lead to correct diagnosis and proper treatment can be administered.

Tracheobronchial tumours can occur in the form of a variety of benign or low- and high-grade malignant tumours. The symptoms of an endobronchial tumour depend on mechanical factors rather than its pathological characteristics. Clinically, these tumours usually cause an airway obstruction and secondary pulmonary infections, though the characteristics are non-specific. The patient usually seeks treatment because of cough and haemoptysis, chest pain, dyspnoea on exertion, localised wheezing, recurrent pneumonia or atelectasis due to the obstruction of airway. If there is no obstruction, the patient may be asymptomatic. Delays in diagnosis of tracheal or endobronchial tumours commonly occur due to negative chest x-ray findings and non-specific symptoms.

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