Scientific Ingenuity Improves Life

Katherine Ross, NP, MIDC

KatherineI am National Jewish Health and this story shows how our innovative approaches to treatment improved a patient’s life.

One of the ways I see Science Transforming Life® here at National Jewish Health is through the clinical staff thinking of new ways to deal with patient problems.

For example, one of the patients who came to see Dr. Musani, our Interventional Pulmonologist, has struggled with severe tracheal stenosis or narrowing of the windpipe. He had been on a ventilator in the past and has had several stent placement procedures to help keep his trachea stented open. Stents are silicone tubes that are placed in the airway to keep it open for easier breathing. This patient’s stents frequently dislodged and fell into his smaller airways many times actually obstructing his breathing, causing respiratory distress and hospitalization. His next option would have been to have a tracheostomy tube surgically put in his neck, but he wanted to avoid that.

Dr. Musani and a thoracic surgeon at the University of Colorado developed an idea to keep a stent in place in this patient’s trachea. They placed a small staple, like a suture or stitch, from the outside of the neck in the stent so that it could not move around. This approach had never been tried before, but it was exactly what worked for the patient. He is doing very well, avoided the tracheostomy tube surgery and has not had respiratory difficulties since this procedure.