Laryngeal stenosis is the partial narrowing down of the central airway, also known as the endolaryngeal airway. This narrowing can affect areas like the glottis, supraglottis, or the subglottis. For some patients, this narrowing of the airway may happen in more than one location, with the subglottis being the most commonly affected. Most patients with this condition usually make a high-pitched noise, called stridor, when breathing, which is commonly confused with wheezing.
Causes of Laryngeal Stenosis
A number of issues can cause an airway obstruction leading to laryngeal stenosis. These include:
- Scar tissue in the voice box
- Inflammatory growth or infections
- Benign or cancerous thyroid tumors
- Tissue build up after a breathing tube placement
- Paralysis of bilateral vocal cords
- Head and neck cancers
- Trauma to the larynx
- Inhalation of a foreign body
- Central airway obstruction as a result of lung cancer
Symptoms of Laryngeal Stenosis
The most common symptoms of laryngeal stenosis include:
- Severe shortness of breath
- Stridor – A high pitched noise produced when breathing, and always mistaken for wheezing
- Difficulty eating
- Recurrent infections of the larynx
Diagnosis of Laryngeal Stenosis
If a patient suffers from any of the above symptoms of Laryngeal Stenosis, then he/she will be referred to an Ear, Nose, and Throat (ENT) consultant for a definite diagnosis. While here, the patient’s history will be taken, and a number of tests will be administered. Some of these tests include:
- Laryngoscopy: Endoscopic evaluation of the larynx
- Microlaryngology: A camera and microscope are used to measure the larynx and narrowing of the airways. In children this is usually done under anesthesia
- Premature babies are only diagnosed with laryngeal stenosis after the breathing tube has been removed, and the specialist notices that he/she is unable to breath by themselves
- CT scans: This takes images of the larynx for the specialist to see the extent of the condition
- Biopsy: Cell tissues are taken from the larynx for examination under a microscope, especially when there is a mass causing the airway obstruction
Treatment of Laryngeal Stenosis
Treatment of laryngeal stenosis is always depended on individual cases. This means that treatment is recommended after the cause of the condition has been established as well as its severity, and the location.
For mild laryngeal stenosis cases, a mild form of treatment can be recommended, which might be observation. Other forms of treatment include:
- In milder cases, medication may be prescribed to reverse or slow down the inflammation causing the obstruction
- In severe cases of inflammation of the larynx leading to obstruction of the airway, surgery may be recommended to open up and improve breathing
- For masses or tumors causing the airway obstruction, the treatment will be dependent upon diagnosis through a biopsy
- For vocal immobility or paralysis of the vocal cords, treatment would be dependent upon the underlying cause, with surgery being the likely recommendation.
At King’s College Hospital Dubai, we focus on offering an exemplary service from initial consultation through to the final diagnosis and treatment and beyond. Our team of expert doctors and nurses are here to offer tailored management and treatment of your condition, and to answer any questions that you might have throughout your time with us. Whatever you need us for, we’re only a phone-call away.
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