We report our first clinical trials with the NdYAG laser in the treatment of tracheal and bronchial tumours and stenoses. The beam is carried through a flexible fibre delivering a power of 50 to 90 watts. It can be introduced through the biopsy channel of a standard bronchoscope, or through a fibrescope. Anaesthesia must avoid inflammable gases. In most cases, general anaesthesia was used, and ventilation achieved with a mixture of 50% nitrogen and oxygen, using a modification of the Sanders injector. One hundred and sixty-four cases have been treated in 317 sessions (from one to five sessions per patient). They comprised: 72 cancers, 24 of which had just been diagnosed and had acute respiratory obstruction. In 16, one single session restored the patency of the airway. Forty-eight other cases were recurrent carcinomas after either surgery or radiotherapy, nine of which were caused by cancers of other origin invading the trachea; 21 benign or moderately malignant tumours; 44 iatrogenic stenoses, including 31 narrow ones. Of those 31 cases, 17 had an immediate satisfactory result, but eight recurred; 24 granulomas on bronchial suture lines. There were two deaths not directly related to surgery or anaesthesia. Bleeding was never more than moderate. The main difficulty lies in the critical respiratory condition of the patients, sometimes seen in acute asphyxia, referred to us as a last resort, especially those with carcinomas involving the trachea or main bronchi.
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