Subglottic Hemangioma | Diagnosis & Treatments

How is subglottic hemangioma diagnosed?

During a child’s appointment, a physician will first conduct a thorough medical exam and ask questions about to create a detailed medical history.

The physician may order an imaging test, such as an X-ray or if need be an MRI to see if there is a mass in his or her airway. However, at Boston Children’s we often recommend an endoscopy to get a more detailed, accurate picture of a child’s airway.

Expert subglottic hemangioma diagnosis at Boston Children’s

Because subglottic hemangioma is so rare with few symptoms, it is commonly misdiagnosed. If the disease progresses without treatment, it can severely affect a child’s ability to breathe.

At the Boston Children’s Center for Airway Disorders, our team includes some of the leading experts on this disorder. We are one of only a handful of programs with expertise treating and researching subglottic hemangioma, so we are able to quickly and accurately recognize the signs and symptoms and properly diagnose the condition.

Treating subglottic hemangioma at Boston Children’s

We treat subglottic hemangioma at our Center for Airway Disorders, a world-renowned center known for our:

  • Customized treatment plans for every child: This approach is important because while there are many treatment options for subglottic hemangioma, every child’s specific case is different.
  • Multidisciplinary, team approach: We involve a team of specialists dedicated to your child’s care. In fact, at the Center for Airway Disorders, we work closely with more than a dozen departments and more than 40 specialists across Boston Children’s.
  • Seamless care and support: We have a program coordinator who seamlessly manages every aspect of your child’s care and helps you understand what to expect at all stages.

How is subglottic hemangioma treated?

A child’s specific treatment course will depend on a number of factors, including age and severity of symptoms. Our treatment options include:

  • Propranolol (beta blockers): We often use propranolol as a first-line treatment. This drug is a beta blocker that constricts the capillaries in the hemangioma and slows its growth, causing it to shrink. We will monitor a child for 24-48 hours after first taking propranolol to watch for side effects.
  • Steroids: Steroids may be used on their own for a short period of time to improve symptoms or may be used in conjunction with propranolol.
  • Laser treatment: Small hemangiomas may be treated with a laser, a non-invasive procedure that shrinks the lesion but may require multiple treatments.
  • Surgery: Large hemangiomas that threaten a child’s ability to breath may require surgical removal.