Tracheo-oesophageal fistula in a patient with chronic sarcoidosis.

Research paper by A A Darr, S S Mohamed, D D Eaton, M S MS Kalkat

Indexed on: 15 Aug '15Published on: 15 Aug '15Published in: Annals of the Royal College of Surgeons of England


Sarcoidosis is a common multisystem granulomatous condition of unknown aetiology, predominantly involving the respiratory system. Tracheal stenosis has been described but we believe that we present the first case of a tracheo-oesophageal fistula secondary to chronic sarcoidosis. A 57-year-old woman with sarcoidosis, a known tracheal stricture and a Polyflex(®) stent in situ presented with stridor. Bronchoscopy confirmed in-stent stenosis, by exuberant granulation tissue. The stent was removed and the granulation tissue was resected accordingly. Postoperatively, the patient was noticed to have an incessant cough and video fluoroscopy raised the suspicion of a tracheo-oesophageal fistula. A repeat bronchoscopy demonstrated marked granulation tissue, accompanied by a fistulous connection with the oesophagus at the mid-lower [middle of the lower] third of the trachea. Three Polyflex(®) stents were sited across the entire length of the trachea. Sarcoidosis presents with varying clinical manifestations and disease progression. Tracheal involvement appears to be a rare phenomenon and usually results in stenosis. To date, there has been little or no documented literature describing the formation of a tracheo-oesophageal fistula resulting from sarcoidosis. Early reports documented the presence of sarcoidosis induced weakening in the tracheal wall, a process termed tracheal dystonia. Weaknesses are more apparent in the membranous aspect of the trachea. Despite the rare nature of such pathology, this case report highlights the need to consider the presence of a tracheo-oesophageal fistula in sarcoidosis patients presenting with repeat aspiration in the absence of an alternate pathology.