Tracheal Diseases: Diagnosis & Treatment at Memorial Sloan Kettering

Because of the complexity of the respiratory system, tracheal diseases – which affect breathing – require not only appropriate diagnosis and treatment, but ongoing surveillance to check for any signs that a disease has returned after therapy. Any recurrence of disease is more likely to be treated successfully when it is detected as soon as possible.

As part of Memorial Sloan Kettering’s Complex Airway Program, our experts in thoracic surgery, interventional pulmonology, head and neck surgery, radiology, anesthesiology, and critical care medicine focus on treating and managing cancerous and noncancerous diseases of the airway.  In fact, many of our physicians have specialized training in caring for airway diseases, including intensive surgical training.

Although you will have one primary doctor at Memorial Sloan Kettering, you will have the benefit of the expertise of our entire team. Members of the Complex Airway Program team meet regularly to discuss each patient’s case and determine the best approach to treatment.

We offer a full range of diagnostic procedures and treatments for many kinds of respiratory conditions, including tracheal and bronchial tumors, tracheal stenosis (including subglottic stenosis), and tracheobronchomalacia. Whenever possible, we use minimally invasive diagnostic techniques such as bronchoscopy, which allows us to visualize the inside of the airways using a camera and access most regions of the lung to make a diagnosis without any surgical incisions.

After diagnosing an airway disease, members of our team collaborate closely to select and carry out the appropriate treatment plan for each patient, often minimizing the need for several invasive procedures. Preserving patients’ quality of life during treatment, decreasing the risk of complications, and relieving symptoms such as difficulty breathing are of utmost importance to our physicians.  

Treatment varies according to the type, location, and extent of the tracheal disease, but often includes surgery, radiation therapy, and therapies that can be delivered through a bronchoscope such as laser therapy. Our physicians provide highly specialized surgical options such as tracheobronchoplasty and tracheal resection and reconstruction, performed at only a few hospitals in the world.

Our goal is to provide exceptional care for our patients while working to develop new and improved diagnostic approaches and treatments. We continually evaluate new technologies, surgical techniques, and other strategies to improve the standard of care for tracheal diseases.

Learn more about how we diagnose and treat tracheal and bronchial diseases.