[Skip to Navigation]
August 1995

Idiopathic Subglottic Stenosis

Author Affiliations

From the Departments of Otolaryngology—Head and Neck Surgery (Drs Park, Rebeiz, and Shapshay) and Thoracic and Cardiovascular Surgery (Dr Streitz), Lahey Clinic, Burlington, Mass. Dr Park is now with the Department of Otolaryngology—Head and Neck Surgery, University of Virginia Health Sciences Center, Charlottesville, Va; Dr Streitz is with the Department of Cardiothoracic Surgery, Duluth (Minn) Clinic; and Drs Rebeiz and Shapshay are with the Department of Otolaryngology—Head and Neck Surgery, New England Medical Center, Boston, Mass.

Arch Otolaryngol Head Neck Surg. 1995;121(8):894-897. doi:10.1001/archotol.1995.01890080062012

Objective:  To review our patients with subglottic stenosis and describe a rare subclass of patients in whom the cause of subglottic scarring and narrowing remains unknown.

Design:  A restrospective chart review and clinical update were performed on all patients seen with the diagnosis of subglottic stenosis.

Setting:  The patient pool represents a collection of primary care patients within a suburb of Boston, Mass, and tertiary referrals from community and out-of-state otolaryngologists.

Patients:  The charts of 80 patients were reviewed, and 10 of the 80 patients fulfilled the criteria for idiopathic subglottic stenosis.

Intervention:  Diagnostic and theraeutic intervention ranged from laboratory tests, topography, flexible bronchoscopy, rigid endoscopy and biopsy, laser-assisted dilation, and resection and repair of the lesion.

Main Outcome Measures:  Attention was directed toward the character of the lesion, treatment modality, and clinical outcome.

Results:  From 1985 to 1992, 10 patients with idiopathic subglottic stenosis were treated at the Lahey Clinic, Burlington, Mass. Eight patients required therapy for exertional dyspnea. Endoscopic laser incision and dilation were performed in all eight patients, with good initial results. Four patients were treated successfully with endoscopy alone: three required only one dilation, and the fourth required a second dilation. The remaining four patients, who had longer and more complex stenoses, have had repeated restenosis at intervals ranging from 1.5 to 12 months. Two of these patients have undergone laryngotracheal resection and reconstruction and were without evidence of restenosis 10 and 20 months after surgery.

Conclusions:  There exists a subclass of patients with subglottic stenosis of unknown cause. Symptomatic idiopathic subglottic stenosis may be treated successfully with laser incision and dilation if the stenosis is simple and short. More complex, longer stenoses are prone to recurrence and are more definitively managed by resection and reconstruction of the narrowed area.(Arch Otolaryngol Head Neck Surg. 1995;121:894-897)

Add or change institution