With the use of special balloons of various lengths and diameters, the airway may be dilated. Balloon tracheoplasty (dilatation of the trachea) or bronchoplasty (dilatation of the bronchi) allows gentler airway dilatation, as compared with the rigid scope, with less mucosal trauma. It is commonly performed in the management of malignant central airway obstruction, usually in combination with other modalities.
Balloon dilatation may be performed by rigid or flexible bronchoscopy. The balloons are filled with saline until full deployment is reached, with the help of a pressure-measuring syringe. A prespecified pressure unit diameter is obtained and commonly is maintained for seconds up to a few minutes. Then, the procedure may be repeated several times, or, if needed, larger balloons may be used subsequently.Balloon dilatation is performed in combination with other procedures such as laser endoscopy, or before airway stenting.