Division of Thoracic Surgery
55 Fruit Street
Boston, MA 02114
Near Public Transit
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About the Airway and Tracheal Program
The Airway and Tracheal Surgery Program at Massachusetts General Hospital provides specialized treatments for both common and rare disorders of the trachea, offering patients state-of-the-art evaluation, diagnosis and care.
Our team of highly skilled thoracic surgeons use a variety of techniques, including tracheal reconstruction, to restore proper function of the airway (trachea and bronchi), and voice. We work closely with specialists in:
- Chest Radiology
- Interventional Radiology
- The Center for Laryngeal Surgery and Voice Rehabilitation
- The Center for Thoracic Cancers multidisciplinary clinic
Patients may be referred to us by physicians treating an underlying condition that has created the airway/tracheal issue, such as cancer or obstruction caused by benign disease. Patients can contact individual thoracic surgeons to inquire about treatment options. We offer surgical options for patients with airway obstructions from benign blockages (strictures) or tumors.
Superb Surgical Results
Our high volume of surgery for airway and tracheal conditions—and skilled team of surgeons, anesthesiologists, nurses, physical therapists and speech therapists—help us to attain excellent results in treating patients with complex conditions. Our team will work with you to develop a personalized treatment plan.
Innovative Research Approach
As a research and teaching facility, Mass General is dedicated to advancing knowledge of tracheobronchial disease and producing the next generation of thoracic surgeons skilled at managing airway conditions. Many procedures used in treating tracheal disorders carry the imprint of Mass General Surgeon Hermes Grillo, MD, known as "the father of airway surgery." In the 1960s and 1970s, Dr. Grillo invented novel techniques of tracheal reconstruction that allowed patients with previously untreatable conditions to undergo surgery. This tradition has been carried on by the current group of Mass General thoracic surgeons.
Recent innovative efforts include:
- Creation of a tracheal surgery database to study outcomes and prognosis of patients with airway problems with the goal of improving patient outcomes
- Developing novel techniques to replace damaged organs, including airway and lung, via the Regenerative Medicine Laboratory (Ott Laboratory)
- Initiatives to identify the causes of idiopathic subglottal stenosis, a rare inflammatory disorder of unknown cause predominantly found in women
- Research into possible tracheal substitutes involving regenerative medicine and stem cells
- Using Bioprostheses, implanted devices, to solve very complicated problems of the airway and esophagus for which no other solutions exist
New patients undergo a comprehensive evaluation. We carefully review the recommended course of treatment with each patient and family. If the patient elects to undergo a procedure, we explain each step, using diagrams and illustrations. Our chest radiologists have cutting-edge equipment and are amongst the leaders nationally in the field. Careful collaboration with our anesthesiology, radiologic, pulmonary and voice specialists ensure the best possible treatment and outcomes. Complex airway problems require sophisticated x-ray evaluation.
In the operating room, while the patient is under general anesthesia, we examine the airway (trachea and bronchi) using a bronchoscope, a thin, tube-like imaging instrument for precise evaluation and measurements.
Anesthesiologists play a critical role in the management of patients with airway problems. We have a very skilled group with whom we have worked for many years and are amongst the most experienced nationwide in dealing with airway management. The intensive care team sees patients with airway surgery on a weekly basis. The nurses and doctors play a critical role in the care of these complicated patients and our floor nurses are well-trained on how to help patients recover from surgery.
After surgery, the surgeon reviews the procedure recovery and course of treatment with the patient and family. Each patient has a plan to follow to ensure the best outcomes. Plans and results are communicated to referring physicians so that everyone is on the same page.
The surgeons in the Mass General Airway and Tracheal Surgery Program have numerous publications in nationally recognized journals, including:
- Wang H, Wright CD, Wain JC, Ott HC, Mathisen DJ. Idiopathic subglottic stenosis: factors affecting outcome following single-stage repair. Ann Thorac Surg 2015;100:1804-11.
- Muniappan A, Wain JC, Wright CD, Donahue DM, Gaissert HA, Lanuti M, Mathisen DJ. Surgical treatment of nonmalignant tracheoesophgeal fistulae: a thirty-five year experience. Ann Thorac Surg. 2013 Apr;95(4):1141-6.
- Gaissert HA, Grillo HC, Shadmehr BM, Wright CD, Gokhale M, Wain JC, Mathisen DJ. Laryngotracheoplastic resection for primary tumors of the proximal airway. J Thorac Cardiovasc Surg 2005;129:1006-09.
- Wright CD, Grillo HC, Hammoud ZT, Wain JC, Gaissert HA, Zaydfudim V, Mathisen DJ. Tracheoplasty for expiratory collapse of central airways. Ann Thorac Surg 2005;80:259-266.
- Gaissert HA, Grillo HC, Shadmehr MB, Wright CD, Gokhale M, Wain JC, Mathisen DJ. Long-term survival after resection of primary adenoid cystic and squamous cell carcinoma of the trachea and carina. Ann Thor Surg 2004;78:1889-97.
- Wright CD, Graham BB, Grillo HC, Wain JC, Mathisen DJ. Pediatric tracheal surgery. Ann Thorac Surg 2002;74:308-14.
- Mitchell JC, Mathisen DJ, Wright CD, Wain JC, Donahue DM, Moncure AC, Grillo HC. Clinical experience with carinal resection. J Thorac Cardiovasc Surg 1999;117:39-53.
- Grillo HC, Donahue DM, Mathisen DJ, Wain JC, Wright DC. Postintubation tracheal stenosis. Treatment and results. J Thorac Cardiovasc Surg 1995;109:486-93.
Our team of highly skilled thoracic surgeons use a variety of techniques, including tracheal reconstruction, to restore proper function of the airway (trachea and bronchi), and voice.
- Chief, Thoracic Surgery, Wentworth-Douglass Hospital
- Assoc. Chief, Thoracic Surgery; NSMC-Salem Hospital
- Co-Director, Cardiothoracic Transplantation Lab, MGH/HMS Center for Transplantation Sciences
- Thoracic Surgery
- Department of Surgery
- Chief, Division of Thoracic Surgery
- Hermes C. Grillo Professor of Surgery
- Chief, Thoracic Surgery at Newton-Wellesley Hospital
- Director, Thoracic Oncology, Division of Thoracic Surgery
- Associate Professor Harvard Medical School
- Co-Director Gastroesophageal Surgery Program
- Assistant Professor, Harvard Medical School
- Director of Robotic Thoracic Surgery MGH Network
- Program Director of Robotic Surgical Education
- Visiting Surgeon, MGH
- Mathisen Family Professor of Surgery, Harvard Medical School
- Director of Quality in Surgery, MGH