Eleven cases of tracheobronchial rupture are described. Nine were the result of external non-penetrating trauma and all but three had other serious injuries. The remaining two were caused by endobronchial intubation. Of the cases caused by external injury, respiratory tract injury was confined to the cervical trachea in three. Two required tracheostomy and repair and the third was managed conservatively; all made satisfactory recoveries. Intrathoracic rupture was recognised on or soon after admission in three cases. One patient died of uncontrollable pulmonary haemorrhage before he could be operated on; immediate repair gave good long term results in the other two. In three cases rupture of the main bronchus was not recognised until complete obstruction developed three, five, and 12 weeks after the accidents. The strictures were resected and the lung re-expanded. Robertshaw endobronchial tubes ruptured the left main bronchus in two patients undergoing oesophageal surgery. Uneventful recovery followed immediate repair. The difficulty of confirming rupture of a major airway is discussed and the importance of conserving the lung when the diagnosis has been missed is emphasised.
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