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Pediatric Subglottic Stenosis Surgery Clinical Presentation

  • Author: John E McClay, MD; Chief Editor: Ravindhra G Elluru, MD, PhD  more...
 
Updated: Nov 30, 2015
 

History

Children with subglottic stenosis (SGS) have an airway obstruction that may manifest in several ways.

In neonates, SGS may manifest as stridor and obstructive breathing after extubation that requires reintubation. At birth, intubation in most full-term neonates should be performed with a 3.5-mm pediatric endotracheal tube. If a smaller-than-appropriate endotracheal tube must be used, narrowing of the airway may be present, which could suggest SGS.

The stridor in SGS is usually on inspiration. Inspiratory stridor can be associated with supraglottic, glottic, subglottic, and upper tracheal narrowing. Expiratory stridor is usually associated with tracheal, bronchial, or pulmonary lesions.

The severity of airway symptoms depends on the type or degree of SGS. In mild SGS, only exercise-induced stridor or obstruction may be present. In severe SGS, complete airway obstruction may be present and may require immediate surgical intervention.

Depending on the severity, SGS can cause patients to have decreased subglottic pressure and a hoarse or a weak voice. Hoarseness or vocal weakness can also be associated with glottic stenosis and vocal cord paresis or paralysis.

Always assess the history of gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD). If GERD is present, it must always be evaluated before surgical intervention. A child who eventually has a diagnosis of SGS often has a history of either laryngotracheal trauma or intubation and ventilation. Frequently, these patients were born prematurely, have bronchopulmonary dysplasia, and may require oxygen administration. The degree of pulmonary disease and the amount of oxygen the child requires may affect the ability to perform decannulation. Before surgical intervention, the child should not require a substantial oxygen supplementation.

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Physical Examination

A child's physical examination varies, depending on the degree of SGS present.

Perform a complete head and neck evaluation. Evaluate the child's initial overall appearance, including the following:

  • Comfort level
  • Presence of increased breathing difficulty, especially during periods of heightened emotion
  • Presence of suprasternal, substernal, or intracostal retractions
  • Presence of any nasal flaring

Evaluate the child's voice, with attention to the following:

  • Presence and nature of stridor
  • Abnormal or normal speaking voice

Evaluate the child's neurologic status.

In the presence of tracheotomy, evaluate the patient's breathing while tracheotomy is occluded. Auscultate the child's lung field and neck to elicit any airway obstructive symptoms and to evaluate the status of their pulmonary function.

Identify associated facial abnormalities, such as cleft palate, choanal atresia, retrognathia, and facial deformities.

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Contributor Information and Disclosures
Author

John E McClay, MD Associate Professor of Pediatric Otolaryngology, Department of Otolaryngology-Head and Neck Surgery, Children's Hospital of Dallas, University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center

John E McClay, MD is a member of the following medical societies: American Academy of Otolaryngic Allergy, American Academy of Otolaryngology-Head and Neck Surgery, American College of Surgeons, American Medical Association

Disclosure: Nothing to disclose.

Specialty Editor Board

Mary L Windle, PharmD Adjunct Associate Professor, University of Nebraska Medical Center College of Pharmacy; Editor-in-Chief, Medscape Drug Reference

Disclosure: Nothing to disclose.

Alan D Murray, MD Pediatric Otolaryngologist, ENT for Children; Full-Time Staff, Medical City Dallas Children's Hospital; Consulting Staff, Department of Otolaryngology, Children's Medical Center at Dallas, Cook Children's Medical Center; Full-Time Staff, Texas Pediatric Surgery Center, Cook Children's Pediatric Surgery Center Plano

Alan D Murray, MD is a member of the following medical societies: Alpha Omega Alpha, American Academy of Otolaryngology-Head and Neck Surgery, American Society of Pediatric Otolaryngology, Society for Ear, Nose and Throat Advances in Children, American Academy of Pediatrics, American College of Surgeons, Texas Medical Association

Disclosure: Nothing to disclose.

Chief Editor

Ravindhra G Elluru, MD, PhD Professor, Wright State University, Boonshoft School of Medicine; Pediatric Otolaryngologist, Department of Otolaryngology, Dayton Children's Hospital Medical Center

Ravindhra G Elluru, MD, PhD is a member of the following medical societies: American Academy of Otolaryngology-Head and Neck Surgery, American Academy of Pediatrics, American Bronchoesophagological Association, American College of Surgeons, American Medical Association, Association for Research in Otolaryngology, Society for Ear, Nose and Throat Advances in Children, Triological Society, American Society for Cell Biology

Disclosure: Nothing to disclose.

Acknowledgements

Orval Brown, MD Director of Otolaryngology Clinic, Professor, Department of Otolaryngology-Head and Neck Surgery, University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center at Dallas

Orval Brown, MD is a member of the following medical societies: American Academy of Otolaryngology-Head and Neck Surgery, American Academy of Pediatrics, American Bronchoesophagological Association, American College of Surgeons, American Medical Association, American Society of Pediatric Otolaryngology, Society for Ear, Nose and Throat Advances in Children, and Society of University Otolaryngologists-Head and Neck Surgeons

Disclosure: Nothing to disclose.

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Intraoperative endoscopic view of a normal subglottis.
A glottic and subglottic view of a grade III subglottic stenosis in an 18-year-old patient following a motor vehicle accident. The true vocal cords are seen in the foreground. Subglottic stenosis is seen in the center of the picture.
Endoscopic view of the true vocal cords in the foreground and the elliptical congenital subglottic stenosis (SGS) in the center of the picture.
Endoscopic subglottic view of congenital elliptical subglottic stenosis, a close-up of subglottic stenosis.
An intraoperative view of a split cricoid in a patient with elliptical congenital subglottic stenosis. The open airway can be seen in the center of the picture. The wound extends to the inferior one third of the thyroid cartilage. The first 2 tracheal rings also are divided.
Rib graft for reconstruction of subglottic stenosis carved in boat type anterior graft. The diamond-shaped internal intraluminal component with perichondrium still present is seen on the top section of the rib and the shape of the rib is seen on the backside of the carved out diamond shape.
An intraoperative aerial view of an anterior cartilage graft in place over the wound. Note external component of the graft still looks like a portion of the rib. The internal component has been carved in a diamond shape. This is an intraoperative photo of the patient with elliptical congenital subglottic stenosis. The cartilage graft (rib graft for reconstruction of subglottic stenosis carved in boat type anterior graft) was used in this patient for reconstruction.
An intraoperative side view of the neck with cartilage graft (rib graft for reconstruction of subglottic stenosis carved in boat type anterior graft) to be placed into the posterior cricoid suspended and having all sutures in position, ready to be tied. All the sutures are placed prior to lowering the graft into position. Then, the sutures are tied.
A 1-week postoperative subglottic view of the surgical repair with an anterior graft of a congential elliptical subglottic stenosis. The white areas to the left and right are the true vocal cords. The graft is seen at the superior and mid area.
Subglottic view of very mild congenital subglottic stenosis. Laterally, the area looks only slightly narrow. When endotracheal tubes were used to determine its size, it was found to be 30% narrowed.
An intraoperative view of granular subglottic stenosis in a 3-month-old infant who was born premature, weighing 800 g. The area is still granular following cricoid split. This patient required tracheotomy and eventual reconstruction at age 3 years. True vocal cords are shown in the foreground (slightly blurry).
Intraoperative laryngeal view of the true vocal cords of a 9-year-old boy. Under the vocal cords, a spiraling subglottic stenosis can be seen.
A close-up view of the stenosis in a 9-year-old boy with spiraling subglottic stenosis. This spiraling subglottic stenosis is not complete circumferentially. Laser therapy was the treatment choice and was successful after 2 laser treatments.
Continued lasering of the subglottic stenosis in a 9-year-old boy with spiraling subglottic stenosis. The reflected red light is the aiming beam for the CO2 laser.
Endoscopic view of the same patient (9-year-old boy with spiraling subglottic stenosis) two months after surgery. Some mild residual posterior subglottic stenosis remains, but the child is asymptomatic and the airway is open overall.
Preoperative view of a 4-month-old infant with acquired grade III subglottic stenosis from intubation. Vocal cords are in the foreground.
An endoscopic subglottic view of a 4-month-old with grade III subglottic stenosis born premature at 26 weeks' gestation and intubated for 3 months.
Postoperative view in a 4-month-old infant with acquired grade III subglottic stenosis from intubation. Following cricoid split, the patient had been intubated for 1 week and extubated for 1 week.
A subglottic view of the same patient (a 4-month-old infant with acquired grade III subglottic stenosis from intubation) following dilation with an endotracheal tube to lyse the thin web of scar and a short course (5-day) treatment with oral steroids.
Postoperative view of the same patient (a 4-month-old infant with subglottic stenosis following cricoid split). This picture is 2 weeks after lysis of scar and steroids. Notice very mild recurrence of scaring at the site of previous scar. Overall, the airway is open and patent. The anterior superior area can be seen, with a small area of fibrosis where the cricoid split previously healed.
Anterior rib graft with a diamond shape. Note it measures approximately 1.7 mm in length. Intraluminal site is facing up. Flanges of rib are carved to remain on the outside of the trachea to prevent prolapse into the trachea.
Representative (noninclusive) sample of varying sizes of Aboulker stents (range of 3-15 mm). These stents are hollow and coated in Teflon.
A glottic endoscopic view of the top of Aboulker stent in the larynx protruding through and above the true and false vocal cords. The arytenoids and epiglottic folds are seen.
Diagram of a long Aboulker stent wired to a metal Jackson tracheotomy tube.
A Jackson tracheotomy tube wired to a long Aboulker stent.
A 7-mm Montgomery tracheotomy tube with caps
A subglottic endoscopic view of granulation tissue (superior center portion of the picture) that occurred at the graft site 10 days following a laryngotracheal reconstruction performed with an anterior graft. Granulation tissue is at the superior center portion of the picture.
Intraoperative suspended view through a subglottoscope of the subglottis, showing the granulation tissue just prior to removal with cup forceps and laser. This was taken in a patient who developed granulation tissue that occurred at the graft site 10 days following a laryngotracheal reconstruction performed with an anterior graft.
Postexcision view of granulation tissue through the subglottoscope. This was taken in a patient who developed granulation tissue that occurred at the graft site 10 days following a laryngotracheal reconstruction performed with an anterior graft.
Preoperative view of glottic stenosis and small glottic chink in a 2-year-old child who underwent anterior and posterior grafting. The child's glottic narrowing is tight, and scarring of the right arytenoid has occurred.
Preoperative endoscopic subglottic view of a 2-year-old patient with congenital and acquired vertical subglottic stenosis.
Postoperative view of the glottic larynx in a child who underwent anterior and posterior grafting for subglottic stenosis. The child had glottic narrowing that is more open and in neutral position after the surgery. The scarring of the right true vocal cord appears improved, and her voice is more normal.
Postoperative close-up view of the true vocal cords in the patient with congenital and acquired vertical subglottic stenosis.
A 3-month postoperative subglottic view of the patient with congenital and acquired vertical subglottic stenosis, who underwent anterior and posterior costal cartilage grafting with successful decannulation showing open subglottis with some very mild damage to the anterior wall and the suprastomal area where the tracheostomy tube had been placed.
End view of an Aboulker stent showing the central opening. These stents are hollow and coated in Teflon.
 
 
 
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