Subglottic Stenosis | Diagnosis and Treatment

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Contact the Center for Airway Disorders

How is subglottic stenosis diagnosed?

Children with subglottic stenosis are usually not diagnosed at birth, but more often when they are a few months old, usually if a cold or other virus causes stress to their airway.

Clinicians diagnose subglottic stenosis through a comprehensive aero-digestive evaluation that may include one or more of the following tests:

  • imaging (chest x-ray, neck x-ray, airway fluoroscopy)
  • bronchoscopy
  • laryngoscopy

What are the treatment options for subglottic stenosis?

Treatment depends on the severity of your child's stenosis. Your child may outgrow the problem without intervention or, if the problem is severe, surgery may be required. Your child’s treatment plan may include:

Endoscopic surgery

Our doctors use minimally invasive techniques whenever possible to treat subglottic stenosis. In some cases, the airway may be dilated (opened) with a balloon. Lasers can be used to remove segmental portions of scar tissue.

Open surgery

Our surgeons are experts at open surgery to treat subglottic stenosis. The two most common surgical procedures to treat this condition are:

  • Laryngotracheoplasty: Surgical repair of the stenosis, during which the narrowed diameter of the windpipe (trachea) is enlarged by inserting an elliptical piece of cartilage (taken from the child’s rib or ear, depending on the amount of cartilage needed).
  • Cricotracheal resection: A procedure in which the scar tissue and most of the ring-shaped cartilage of the larynx is cut out and the normal trachea is brought up to replace it. 
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Boston Children's Hospital
300 Longwood Avenue, Boston, MA 02115
For Patients: 617-355-6000
For Referring Providers: 844-BCH-PEDS | 844-224-7337

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