Tracheobronchomalacia (TBM)

Tracheobronchomalacia (TBM) is a condition of the airways that causes them to become weak and floppy and collapse with breathing. Normally the central airways (the trachea and bronchi) remain open when you breathe.

Overview and Symptoms

Tracheobronchomalacia is a rare condition, and often misdiagnosed. In most cases, it is not clear what causes TBM. Sometimes it can be seen at the same time as another lung disorder, such as COPD, asthma, or cystic fibrosis. Our researchers are working to understand the underlying processes that lead to tracheobronchomalacia.

Symptoms of TBM include:

  • Shortness of breath
  • Labored breathing
  • A persistent cough that sounds like a bark or very rumbling
  • Difficulty clearing phlegm or mucus from your throat
  • Build-up of secretions in your lungs
  • Frequent respiratory infections

What does the TBM cough sound like?

Other lung conditions, such as asthma, COPD, or emphysema, can cause symptoms that are similar to TBM. To ensure an accurate diagnosis, we offer patients one-stop access to a multidisciplinary team of experts.

Our specialists will first ask about your symptoms and past health problems, and do a thorough physical exam. They may also ask you to undergo two specialized medical tests — a dynamic flexible bronchoscopy and a dynamic expiratory CT scan — to determine whether you have TBM – and if so, how severe it is.


BIDMC is a world leader in diagnosing and treating tracheobronchomalacia (TBM). When you make an appointment with our TBM Program, you will benefit from the expertise of a multidisciplinary team of interventional pulmonologists, thoracic surgeons, ear/nose/throat specialists, speech pathologists, endocrinologists, general pulmonologists, behavioral health providers, anesthesiologists, and radiologists.

We evaluate and treat more patients with TBM than anywhere else in the United States. Through our TBM Program, we offer you an extraordinary level of expertise and care.

TBM Program at BIDMC

BIDMC is a world leader in diagnosing and treating tracheobronchomalacia (TBM). Our specialists evaluate and treat more patients with TBM than any other program in the United States.

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