Down syndrome (DS) is the most common chromosomal anomaly in humans. Numerous congenital malformations associated with DS have been described. However, there are insufficient data available about airway anomalies. Our objective was to characterize the clinical presentation, frequency, and type of airway anomalies in a population of patients with DS. A retrospective evaluation of flexible bronchoscopies performed in 24 DS patients due to significant respiratory morbidity was compared to the findings in 324 non-DS patients during the same time period. The procedure was carried out under sedation, using an Olympus BF3C20 bronchoscope. The main indications for the procedure were atelectasis of the right upper lobe (12/24) and stridor (7/24). The most common associated conditions were congenital heart disease (12/24) and reactive airways disease (12/24). The most important endoscopic findings were: laryngomalacia (12/24), tracheomalacia (8/24), tracheal bronchus (5/24), and bronchomalacia (5/24). Only six patients had a normal examination. Multiple airway anomalies (>/=2) were a common finding in this series. We conclude that patients with DS and respiratory symptoms have a high incidence of airway anomalies compared to non-DS patients. The clinician should have a high index of suspicion for airway anomalies in DS patients with respiratory symptoms.
Copyright 2003 Wiley-Liss, Inc.