Tracheobronchopathia osteochondroplastica

Tracheobronchopathia osteochondroplastica (TO) is a very rare idiopathic non neoplastic tracheo-bronchial abnormality.

The estimated prevalence on routine bronchoscopy can be upto 0.7% . It typically affects those in the 5th to 6th decades and there may be a male predilection 4

Most patients are asymptomatic. Those who have symptoms may present with cough, shortness of breath on exertion, wheezing or recurrent respiratory infection. Haemoptysis can occasionally result from an ulceration of a nodule or an acute infection. 

There is development of osseous or cartilaginous 1-8mm 2-3 nodules or both in the submucosa of the trachea and bronchial walls. They may be either focal or diffuse. There is characterisitic sparing the posterior membranous portions of the trachea 6.

There are two possible theories of pathogenesis: 

  • ecchondrosis and exostosis from cartilage rings
  • cartilaginous and osseous metaplasia of the elastic tissue in the internal elastic fibrous membrane. 
  • classically affects the lower 2/3rds of the trachea and proximal portions of the bronchi 4.
  • only affects the anterior and lateral walls.

May show irregularity and narrowing of the typically affected segments of the trachea and bronchi.

May additionally show thickened tracheal cartilages with sparing of posterior membranous portions. There are small (typically ~3-8 mm) calcific nodules along its inner tracheal aspect, protruding into the tracheal lumen. The appearance is much more irregular than that seen with normal cartilage calcification.

Initially described by S Wilks in 1857 as ossific deposits 5.

It is a benign condition and often no interventional in required in asymptomatic cases. Successful recovery with NSAIDS and Dapsone have been reported in symptomatic cases. Overall prognosis is generally good and is dependent upon airway stenosis caused by nodules.  

Imaging differential considerations include:

Share article

Article information

rID: 9769
System: Chest
Tag: cases
Synonyms or Alternate Spellings:
  • Tracheopathia osteochondroplastica
  • Tracheobronchopathia osteochondroplastica (TO)
  • Tracheobronchopathica osteochondroplastica
  • Tracheo-bronchopathica osteochondroplastica
  • Tracheobronchopathica osteochondroplastica (TBO)

Cases and figures

  • Drag
    Images a), b) and...
    Case 1: affecting trachea
    Drag here to reorder.
  • Drag
    Case 2
    Drag here to reorder.
  • Drag
    Case 3
    Drag here to reorder.
  • Updating… Please wait.

    Alert accept

    Error Unable to process the form. Check for errors and try again.

    Alert accept Thank you for updating your details.