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Minimally invasive procedures for airway disorders

Minimally invasive treatments can result in fewer incisions, less scarring, faster recovery times, and fewer risks and complications than open surgery. Instead of opening up the airway, minimally invasive procedures pass a long, flexible or rigid tube called an endoscope down your child’s throat, into the trachea. The surgeon then passes small instruments down the endoscope to perform the procedure.

Some of the minimally invasive treatments we offer include:

  • Laryngeal or bronchoscopic laser resection: Lasers are used endoscopically to remove scar tissue and strictures in the airway.
  • Endoscopic airway dilation: A small balloon is used to open (dilate) a narrowed trachea or upper airway. The surgeon briefly inflates the balloon 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 the airway.
  • Triple scope: A procedure used to view the entire aerodigestive system. Involves specialists in otolaryngology, pulmonology, and gastroenterology.
  • Bronchoscopy: A procedure used to diagnose problems with the airway and lungs. Uncomplicated procedures are performed in our endoscopy suites. More complicated procedures are performed in an operating room.

Surgical procedures

Your child’s doctor may recommend open surgery for complex airway disorders. These techniques include:

  • Laryngeal cleft repair: Repair of defect between esophagus and trachea. This procedure can be done endoscopically or through an open approach, depending on the size of the defect.
  • 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. Typically, cartilage is taken from the patient’s rib or ear, depending on the size of cartilage needed.
  • Segmental tracheal resection: Surgeons remove a defective tracheal segment and then repair the airway by suturing (attaching) the remaining ends together.
  • Cricotracheal resection: 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 to improve airflow when a long segment of the trachea has become narrow. Our surgeons are experts in this complex procedure.
  • Supraglottoplasty: A surgical treatment that involves cutting the folds of tissue to open the supraglottic airway (the area above the vocal cords).