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Genetic and Rare Diseases Information Center (GARD)


Other Names for this Disease
  • TBM
See Disclaimer regarding information on this site. Some links on this page may take you to organizations outside of the National Institutes of Health.

Your Question

I have just been diagnosed with TBM and I want to find out as much as possible about this disease, specifically regarding diagnosis, treatment, and prognosis.

Our Answer

We have identified the following information that we hope you find helpful. If you still have questions, please contact us.

How is tracheobronchomalacia diagnosed?

A diagnosis of tracheobronchomalacia (TBM) may be suspected based on the presence of characteristic signs and symptoms or abnormal pulmonary function tests. Additional testing such as CT scan and bronchoscopy can then be performed to confirm the diagnosis and evaluate the severity of the condition. TBM is considered mild if the trachea narrows to 50% of its initial size while the affected person is breathing out, moderate if it narrows to 25%, and severe if the walls of the trachea touch.[1]
Last updated: 3/6/2015

How might tracheobronchomalacia be treated?

Treatment is only medically necessary in people who have signs and symptoms of tracheobronchomalacia (TBM). Management of symptomatic TBM first involves identifying underlying conditions contributing to symptoms, such as chronic inflammation, compression, or injury. Initial treatment will target these underlying medical concerns.[1]

If symptoms persist, people with TBM may undergo pulmonary function tests or other assessments to help guide therapy choice and allow monitoring of the response to treatment.[1]

Treatment options may include:[1][2][3]
We strongly recommend that you discuss your treatment options with a healthcare provider.
Last updated: 3/6/2015

What is the long-term outlook for people with tracheobronchomalacia?

The long-term outlook (prognosis) for people with tracheobronchomalacia (TBM) varies depending on the underlying cause. In general, the prognosis is good in children with primary TBM (also called congenital TBM) who do not have any associated problems. Most of these cases that develop during infancy resolve on their own when the cartilage of the trachea naturally stiffens (often between ages one and two). However, intervention may be needed in children with episodes of airway obstruction, frequent infections, respiratory failure, and/or failure to thrive. When primary TBM is part of a genetic condition, the prognosis largely depends on the severity of the condition and the other associated signs and symptoms.[4]

Secondary TBM (also called acquired TBM) can remain stable over time, but tends to worsen in the majority of affected people.[5][1] Without treatment, TBM may cause significant breathing problems, but it is rarely life-threatening. Fortunately, treatment options have progressed significantly in recent decades which have lead to improvements in prognosis and quality of life.[2]
Last updated: 3/6/2015

  • Ernst A, Carden K, Gangadharan SP. Tracheomalacia and tracheobronchomalacia in adults. In: Basow, DS. UpToDate. Waltham, MA: UpToDate; 2013;
  • Ridge CA, O'donnell CR, Lee EY, Majid A, Boiselle PM. Tracheobronchomalacia: current concepts and controversies. Journal of Thoracic Imaging. 2011; 26:278-289. Accessed 11/20/2012.
  • Choo EM, Seaman JC, Musani AI.. Tracheomalacia/Tracheobronchomalacia and hyperdynamic airway collapse. Immunol Allergy Clin North Am. February 2013; 33(1):23-34.
  • Christopher M Oermann, MD. Congenital anomalies of the intrathoracic airways and tracheoesophageal fistula. UpToDate. April 2014; Accessed 3/5/2015.
  • Carden KA, Boiselle PM, Waltz DA, and Ernst A. . Tracheomalacia and Tracheobronchomalacia in Children and Adults: An In-Depth Review. Chest. 2005; 127(3):984-1005. Accessed 9/12/2013.
Other Names for this Disease
  • TBM
See Disclaimer regarding information on this site. Some links on this page may take you to organizations outside of the National Institutes of Health.