Pediatric Laryngeal Stenosis
Laryngeal stenosis is a condition that occurs when the larynx (also called the voice box) narrows, which can affect the voice and obstruct the airway. It can be congenital (present at birth) or develop due to an injury.
The larynx contains the vocal cords and is used when breathing, swallowing and talking. It’s composed of cartilage, muscle and soft tissue. The vocal cords (also called vocal folds) create sounds and prevent food and other particles from entering the respiratory tract.
The larynx consists of five parts:
- Epiglottis – the flap that covers the trachea (also called the windpipe) so food doesn’t enter the lungs while eating
- Glottis – the part of the larynx that contains the vocal cords
- Subglottis – the lowest part of the larynx below the vocal cords to the top of the trachea
- Supraglottis – the upper part of the larynx
- Vocal cords – two small bands of muscle that vibrate to produce sounds
When any part of the larynx is constricted, it’s known as laryngeal stenosis. It most commonly affects the subglottis.
Causes of laryngeal stenosis include trauma to the larynx due to an injury or intubation (when a breathing tube is placed inside the throat). Injury or intubation can cause scar tissue to form and swelling, which narrows the larynx. The condition can also be congenital (present at birth).
Symptoms of laryngeal stenosis include:
- Breathing problems
- Coughing up mucus
- Difficulty talking and swallowing
- High-pitched wheezing sound while breathing in or out
- Shortness of breath when exerting