Adult laryngomalacia: an uncommon clinical entity

Am J Otolaryngol. 2002 Nov-Dec;23(6):386-9. doi: 10.1053/ajot.2002.126322.


A 27-year-old female presented with a several-day history of acute onset inspiratory stridor and shortness of breath that worsened with phonation and minimal exertion. Flexible fiberoptic direct laryngoscopy revealed prolapse of the mucosa overlying the arytenoid cartilages bilaterally, consistent with type 1 laryngomalacia. These symptoms persisted with only minimal improvement despite administration of short-term corticosteroids, several weeks of antireflux medications, and other conservative measures. The patient underwent a supraglottoplasty and exhibited a marked improvement in her symptoms. The literature describes several cases of exercise-induced laryngomalacia in both pediatric and adult populations in which symptoms of inspiratory stridor and shortness of breath are induced by exercise but resolve upon its discontinuation. Adult laryngomalacia appears to be a clinical entity distinct from exercise-induced laryngomalacia because symptoms fail to resolve after several weeks of medical therapy and discontinuation of exertional activity. This case suggests that adult laryngomalacia, unlike pediatric and exercise-induced laryngomalacia, is less likely to resolve over time with conservative management and may require surgical intervention with supraglottoplasty necessary to alleviate symptoms.

Publication types

  • Case Reports
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Female
  • Glottis / surgery
  • Humans
  • Laryngeal Diseases / diagnosis*
  • Laryngeal Diseases / therapy*
  • Respiratory Insufficiency / etiology
  • Respiratory Sounds / etiology