Arytenoid prolapse: a source of obstruction following laryngotracheoplasty

Otolaryngol Head Neck Surg. 2009 May;140(5):752-6. doi: 10.1016/j.otohns.2009.01.002. Epub 2009 Mar 9.


Objective: Arytenoid prolapse is a potential source of upper airway obstruction following laryngotracheoplasty, and may be difficult to identify. We explored the incidence, clinical features, etiology, and surgical approach to patients with arytenoid prolapse following laryngotracheoplasty.

Study design: Case series with chart review.

Subjects and methods: The charts of 93 patients diagnosed with arytenoid prolapse following laryngotracheoplasty from 1981 to 2007 were reviewed.

Results: The incidence was 5.7 percent (93/1634). Forty-nine patients had unilateral prolapse; 44 had bilateral prolapse. Average time from laryngotracheoplasty to presentation was 36.8 months. Common symptoms were dyspnea on exertion, tracheostomy dependence, and sleep-disordered breathing. Fifty-four patients (58%) required surgical intervention, with arytenoid reduction performed in 45 patients. Nine underwent reduction during revision laryngotracheoplasty or cricotracheal resection. Fourteen patients required a second procedure for persistent prolapse. Thirty-nine (42%) required no intervention. Symptom resolution or decannulation was achieved in all patients in whom prolapse was the source of obstruction. Statistically significant differences were found when anterior vs posterior graft utilization was compared.

Conclusions: Arytenoid prolapse is a cause of airway obstruction following laryngotracheoplasty. Subtle airway complaints and decannulation failures are common features. Both endoscopic and open procedures can successfully treat arytenoid prolapse. Potential etiologies are discussed.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Airway Obstruction / epidemiology
  • Airway Obstruction / etiology*
  • Airway Obstruction / surgery
  • Arytenoid Cartilage / surgery*
  • Child
  • Child, Preschool
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Incidence
  • Infant
  • Infant, Newborn
  • Larynx / surgery*
  • Male
  • Prolapse
  • Reoperation
  • Trachea / surgery*
  • Treatment Outcome