A 34-year-old woman with papillary thyroid carcinoma underwent total thyroidectomy with central and lateral lymphadenectomy. Immediate airway compromise required re-intubation immediately after surgery. Marked tracheal and bronchial collapse of greater than 50% of the lumen indicated tracheobronchomalacia. Subsequent attempts at extubation failed over the next week. The patient soon developed evidence of a lower respiratory tract infection. Empirical treatment with penicillins was unsuccessful. A clinical suspicion of chlamydia infection prompted initiation of macrolide treatment followed by resolution of both the patient’s respiratory infection and tracheobronchomalacia. Serology returned positive for Chlamydophila psittaci infection. It later transpired that the patient had symptoms of an upper respiratory tract infection just prior to surgery. This case demonstrates an interesting and unreported cause of tracheobronchomalacia as well as providing a good lesson on the importance of preoperative screening for infection.
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Competing interests None.
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