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Once a week, our team meets with specialists from across Boston Children's to discuss individual patients and their diagnoses. During this conference, doctors from different disciplines share their expertise so that our center can establish a better understanding of each child’s needs and create the most effective treatment plans possible. Treatment for airway disorders may involve surgical procedures or minimally invasive approaches, depending on your child’s specific condition.

Minimally invasive procedures for airway disorders

Instead of opening up the airway, minimally invasive procedures pass an endoscope (a long, flexible or rigid tube) down your child’s throat and into the trachea. Small instruments are passed down the endoscope to perform the procedure. This can result in fewer incisions, less scarring, faster recovery times, and fewer risks and complications.

Some of the minimally invasive treatments we provide include:

Laryngeal or bronchoscopic laser resection: Lasers can be used endoscopically to remove scar tissue and strictures in your child’s airway.

Endoscopic airway dilation: This procedure is used to open (dilate) a narrowed trachea or upper airway using a small balloon. The balloon is briefly inflated in the airway to stretch the scar tissue that is causing the narrowing (stenosis). Sometimes, balloon dilation is combined with endoscopic incision or removal of scar tissue to treat the stenosis.

Microdebrider technique: In certain conditions, tumors, masses, and cysts can be removed endoscopically using a powered instrument called a microdebrider. This instrument has a disposable blade in the shape of the hollow tube that simultaneously cuts and removes the obstructing tissue from your child’s airway.

Surgical procedures

Sometimes, physicians may recommend open surgery for complex airway disorders. These techniques include:

Laryngotracheoplasty: Surgical repair of airway stenosis (narrowing), during which the narrowed diameter of the windpipe (trachea) is enlarged by inserting an elliptical piece of cartilage (taken from your child’s rib or ear, depending on the size of cartilage needed).

Segmental tracheal resection: During this procedure, surgeons remove the defective tracheal segment and then repair the airway by suturing (attaching) the remaining ends together.

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.

Slide tracheoplasty: A procedure done when a narrowing of the long segment of the trachea is present. Our surgeons are experts in this complex procedure to make the airway larger.

Supraglottoplasty: A surgical treatment that involves cutting the folds of tissue to open the supraglottic airway (the area above the vocal cords).

Watch: Going home

Learn more about caring for your child’s trach at home in these videos.