[Skip to Content]
[Skip to Content Landing]
Original Investigation
August 2016

Upper Airway Computed Tomography Measures and Receipt of Tracheotomy in Infants With Robin Sequence

Author Affiliations
  • 1Division of Pediatric Otolaryngology, Department of Otolaryngology–Head and Neck Surgery, University of Washington and Seattle Children’s, Seattle
  • 2Department of Pediatrics, Division of Craniofacial Medicine, University of Washington and Seattle Children’s, Seattle
  • 3Department of Radiology, University of Washington and Seattle Children’s, Seattle
  • 4Seattle Children’s Core for Biomedical Statistics, Seattle, Washington
JAMA Otolaryngol Head Neck Surg. 2016;142(8):750-757. doi:10.1001/jamaoto.2016.1010

Importance  Airway management in infants with Robin sequence is challenging. Objective upper airway measures associated with severe airway compromise requiring tracheotomy are needed to guide decision making.

Objectives  To define objective upper airway measures in infants with Robin sequence from craniofacial computed tomography (CT) and to identify those measures in Robin sequence associated with tracheotomy.

Design, Setting, and Participants  A cohort study (2003 to 2014, over 1-year follow-up) of 37 infants with Robin sequence evaluated for surgical management and 37 selected age- and sex-matched controls without a craniofacial condition conducted in a pediatric institution’s craniofacial center.

Main Outcomes and Measures  Define and compare CT-generated upper airway measures in these groups: infants with Robin sequence vs controls, and infants with Robin sequence with vs without tracheotomy. A negative difference signifies lower values for the Robin sequence and tracheotomy groups. Clinical data collected included age and height at time of CT scan, sex, tracheotomy presence, associated syndrome, and laboratory indicators of hypoventilation and hypoxemia. To evaluate interrater reliability, 2 raters performed each measurement in the Robin sequence group.

Results  In 74 infants, 17 of 28 measures were different between infants with Robin sequence and those in the control group. Tracheotomy was performed in 14 of 37 (38%) infants with Robin sequence. Infants with tracheotomy more commonly had associated syndromes (12 of 14 [86%] vs 11 of 23 [48%]) and a history of hypoventilation and hypoxemia (13 of 14 [93%] vs 15 of 23 [65%]). Five of the 11 measures associated with tracheotomy were reliable and simpler to measure with the following mean differences (95% CIs) between groups: tongue length, 0.87 (0.26 to 1.48); tongue position relative to palate, 0.83 (0.22 to 1.45); mandibular total length, −0.8 (−1.42 to −0.19); gonial angle, 0.71 (0.08 to 1.34); and inferior pogonial angle, 0.66 (0.02 to 1.29). Using a receiver operating characteristic analysis, a composite score of these 5 measures for predicting tracheotomy risk yielded an area under the curve of 0.83 and achieved 86% sensitivity and 74% specificity.

Conclusions and Relevance  Computed tomography measures quantifying tongue position and mandibular configuration can identify infants with Robin sequence, and importantly, differentiate those who have severe upper airway compromise requiring tracheotomy. Following validation, these measures can be used for objective upper airway assessment and for expediting clinical decision-making in these challenging cases for which no such tools currently exist.