New windpipe made of skin and cartilage

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Hope for trachea destroyed by cancer tumors: Doctors formed an artificial trachea from skin and cartilage. A total of five medical interventions have already been successful.

Patients with the rare disease of tracheal cancer can hope for surgical help in the future. In the past, French doctors have managed to form a new windpipe from skin and cartilage. If the trachea is destroyed by tumors, a new one can be rebuilt from the newly assembled tissue.

So far, only conventional cancer therapies have been available, especially for tracheal cancer. These include radiation therapy, surgical removal of the cancerous tumor, chemotherapy. In the case of a destroyed trachea, there have so far been no adequate treatment methods other than the placement of trachea stents. French surgeons have now formed a new windpipe from skin tissue and cartilage in cancer patients. The grafts could be used to rebuild the trachea. The team of doctors around surgeons Philippe Dartevelle and Frédéric Kolb presented the results of the study work to the scientific audience at the Marie Lannelongue Surgical Center in Le Plessis Robinson. When presenting the results, the medical specialists explained that the grafts were formed from the patient's own skin tissue. In order to achieve stability, cartilage was removed from the ribs. An artificial air tube could be formed from both types of fabric using specialized processes.

First patients already treated In the past six years, seven patients have been treated with the new method. Successful treatment was achieved in the majority of cases. Five patients had survived the operation well, but two patients died of respiratory infections.

Tracheal cancer is a very rare cancer. According to the Federal Statistical Office, around 40,000 people in Germany died of lung cancer in 2006. In contrast, only 40 people died of tracheal cancer. The trachea connects the external respiratory organs, which include the nasal cavity and the pharynx, with the bronchial system of the lungs. The tube has a length of 10 to 12 cm in an adult. The trachea mantle is stabilized by a 6 to 20 horseshoe-shaped hyaline cartilage. So it cannot happen that people do not collapse when inhaled.

The body's own tissue has already been successfully used in numerous treatment fields, e.g. to repair mutilated body parts such as nose or mouth. The advantage here is that the body does not reject its own tissue and in most cases there is no immune reaction. When the treatment method is also available in Germany is still unclear. (sb)

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