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Comment & Response
July 2018

Have Laryngologists Found One More Disease to Treat With a Flexible Laryngoscope and a Needle?—Reply

Author Affiliations
  • 1Keck School of Medicine, Department of Otolaryngology–Head & Neck Surgery, University of Southern California, Los Angeles, California
JAMA Otolaryngol Head Neck Surg. 2018;144(7):646-647. doi:10.1001/jamaoto.2018.0317

In Reply We thank Dr Bradley for his commentary regarding our recently published article, “Serial In-Office Intralesional Steroid Injections in Airway Stenosis.”1 We agree with his comment highlighting how advances in one discipline can forward another, and that the treatment of scarring has been well studied. Applying proven treatments for scarring in other locations of the body is prudent, and we foresee the application of a number of newer treatments for scarring (ie, flourourocil) in airway stenosis. We acknowledge the lack of a true control group in this particular study. In addition, we appreciate that it is not clear how many total injections are required to effect positive changes for any given patient. With future evaluation of a larger cohort, we anticipate elucidating this more clearly and will likely be able to target different etiologic subgroups more specifically. Recognizing that intralesional steroid injections for airway stenosis will not be a panacea, patients with different etiologies of subglottic stenosis will need to be treated slightly differently, tailoring treatment to the patient’s disease. We use intralesional steroid injections largely in 3 different ways. The first is as an adjuvant after an endoscopic procedure; this is done for patients in all etiologic subgroups. For patients in the traumatic subgroup for whom intralesional steroid injection is effective (ie, without significant cartilage collapse), ongoing intervention may not be required because they do not have a relapsing disorder. On the other hand, patients with inflammatory causes of stenosis, who have a high chance of recurrence, can benefit from adjuvant injections after surgery as well as maintenance injections for early recurrence. Recent reports aimed at identifying the etiology of idiopathic subglottic stenosis (iSGS), have suggested a local, inflammatory, immune response.2,3 The early stage of recurrence in both iSGS and rheumatologic-types of stenosis is granulation and erythema in the subglottis, followed by healing with fibrosis. Intervention with intralesional steroid injections (or potentially another immune modulator) at this early stage may alter wound healing, avoid scar formation, and therefore circumvent the need for surgical intervention. Several studies have shown efficacy, safety, and tolerance in patients with iSGS in addition to reducing the need for surgical treatment.4,5 Last, as previously observed,5 we have seen steroid injections dissolve scar tissue that has already formed, therefore obviating the need for surgical intervention in some patients when presenting without critical stenosis. Investigating alternative treatments for scarring is relevant in subglottic stenosis, but we also suggest exploring ways to pharmacologically modulate the inflammatory phase of the disease.

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