Laryngeal Cleft | Diagnosis & Treatments

How is laryngeal cleft diagnosed?

While present at birth, sometimes this disorder is sometimes not diagnosed until later childhood or adolescence. At Boston Children’s, laryngeal cleft is diagnosed through a comprehensive aero-digestive evaluation that may include one or more of the following tests:

  • bronchoscopy
  • cat scan (CT) with 3‐D reconstruction
  • echocardiogram
  • functional endoscopic evaluation of swallowing (FEES)
  • laryngoscopy
  • rigid bronchoscopy
  • swallow study

Your child may also require an airway evaluation in which a surgeon closely examines a region of the larynx (voice box). During this procedure, the surgeon will evaluate the length and depth of the gap and determine the type of cleft. Your child will be asleep for this procedure.

How is laryngeal cleft treated?

Our team of experts will discuss your child’s specific symptoms and suggest a treatment plan to address his or her condition.

Non-surgical treatments

Your child’s care team will work closely with other specialties to manage laryngeal clefts medically (without surgery). This includes customizing a feeding trial that ensures your child is able to eat and swallow safely and comfortably. Your child will also be treated for other problems he or she may be experiencing, such as gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD), reactive airway disease or a food allergy. Different treatments can help improve airway edema or irritation, which in turn may help swallowing function.

Surgical treatments

Patients with a type I cleft for whom medical management strategies have not been successful will likely need surgical repair. Patients with a type II, III or IV laryngeal cleft will require a surgical repair, due to the severity of the disorder. After surgery, your child will continue to receive comprehensive follow-up care.