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Airway Obstructions

An airway obstruction occurs when something keeps air from moving in and out of your lung's airways.


  • Choking or gagging
  • Sudden violent coughing.
  • Vomiting
  • Noisy breathing or wheezing
  • Struggling to breathe
  • Turning blue

Malignant Airway Obstructions

Approximately one-third of patients with lung cancer will develop airway obstruction and many cancers lead to airway obstruction through meta stasis (the development of secondary malignant growths at a distance from a primary site of cancer). Removal of airway obstruction is associated with improvement in symptoms, quality of life, and lung function

Benign Airway Obstruction

The most common causes of non-malignant central airway obstruction are:

  • Post-intubation and post-tracheostomytracheal stenosis (narrowing of the airway)
  • The presence of foreign bodies
  • Benign endobronchial tumors
  • Tracheobronchomalacia (an uncommon disease of the central airways resulting from softening or damage of the cartilaginous structures of the airway walls in the trachea and bronchi).