Background: Vallecular cyst is fairly uncommon in neonates and infants. Although benign in nature, it may cause severe airway obstruction and even death. This study retrospectively analyzed the clinical manifestations of vallecular cyst in neonates and discussed its management.
Methods: From June 1993 through January 1997, 11 cases of vallecular cyst were collected and reviewed retrospectively. There were 8 male infants and 3 female infants. Their clinical manifestations, age at the onset of symptoms, age at diagnosis, and surgical management were analyzed. Fibrolaryngoscopy was used for preoperative diagnosis and postoperative follow-up.
Results: The infants' initial presentations were inspiratory stridor, respiratory distress, noisy breathing, feeding difficulty, and failure to thrive. There was a high incidence of patients with coexisting signs of laryngomalacia (10/11). Ten patients received laryngomicrosurgery with CO2 laser for deroofing the cyst. Additional supraglottoplasty was performed at the same time in 4 patients with laryngomalacia type A + C and in one patient with severe laryngomalacia type C. Their symptoms all resolved soon after surgery. The phenomenon of laryngomalacia also disappeared. There has been no recurrence up to the present.
Conclusion: Although fairly uncommon, vallecular cyst should be included in the differential diagnosis of congenital laryngeal stridor in neonates. The use of fibroendoscopy can promptly diagnose vallecular cyst and any synchronous airway lesions. Although most of the synchronous laryngomalacia (type C) in this study was secondary to vallecular cyst, we suggest that supraglottoplasty be taken into consideration during cyst deroofing when the signs and symptoms of laryngomalacia type A are also present.