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Airway Stenosis

The term stenosis refers to the abnormal narrowing of a tube-shaped organ. In the human airway, there are three main areas where stenosis can occur, all of which can be treated by Temple's otolaryngologists.
  • Laryngeal stenosis - Laryngeal stenosis is the narrowing of the larynx, or voice box. Symptoms of laryngeal stenosis include high-pitched wheezing, rapid breathing and shortness of breath. The main cause of laryngeal narrowing is having a breathing tube in place. Other causes include injury, surgery, or radiation to the larynx.
  • Subglottic stenosis - Subglottic stenosis is the narrowing of the subglottic section of the airway, located immediately below the vocal folds. In adults, the condition is primarily due to prolonged use of a breathing tube but could be without a specific cause, particularly in young women. Symptoms of subglottic stenosis include high-pitched wheezing, hoarseness and shortness of breath. This condition can be a medical emergency or develop gradually, worsening over time.
  • Tracheal stenosis - Tracheal stenosis is the narrowing of the trachea, or windpipe. The windpipe is the largest airway in the human body and is responsible for guiding air into the lungs. Symptoms of tracheal stenosis include coughing, wheezing, difficulty breathing, or a bluish color in the skin or mouth. This condition can be caused by prolonged use of a breathing tube, external injury, cancer or certain autoimmune conditions.
If you suspect you have any form of airway stenosis, Temple's experienced otolaryngologists can diagnose and treat your condition.

Video: Airway Disorders

Ahmed Soliman, MD, Director of the Voice, Airway, and Swallowing Center at Temple, discusses risk factors for different vocal disorders as well as airway stenosis, and the treatment options available at the Temple Head & Neck Institute.

Airway Stenosis Treatment at Temple

Airway Reconstruction
Airway reconstruction is a surgical treatment for adults with laryngeal and tracheal stenosis. The procedure restores airflow. In patients that have received a tracheotomy, airway reconstruction may allow it to be removed.

Airway reconstruction is a viable treatment for certain types of stenosis. Temple's otolaryngologists use this procedure to treat subglottic and tracheal stenosis. When conditions necessitate, Temple offers a variety of surgical approaches for airway reconstruction including removing a damaged portion of the trachea. Once removed, the surgeon can connect the healthy ends of the trachea together, similar to welding a pipe after removing a broken section.
In some cases airway reconstruction may also be considered for patients with tracheotomies.

Temple's surgeons are highly experienced in many approaches to airway reconstruction.