Objectives: We examined the incidence and significance of aspiration in infants with severe laryngomalacia (LM) who undergo supraglottoplasty.
Methods: We performed a 5-year retrospective review of a prospective database from 2 tertiary care pediatric institutions. The studied patients were 50 consecutive infants with severe LM who underwent supraglottoplasty (median age, 4.5 months) and functional endoscopic evaluation of swallowing (FEES) with or without laryngopharyngeal stimulation testing. The intervention was cold-knife microlaryngeal supraglottoplasty and reflux management. The main outcome measure was aspiration resolution.
Results: Preoperative FEES identified laryngeal penetration in 44 infants (88%) with severe LM. Laryngeal penetration with aspiration beyond the vocal folds was noted in 36 infants (72%). Postoperative FEES (median follow-up, 3.8 months) indicated resolution of laryngeal penetration and aspiration in 36 (81.8%) and 31 (86.1%) of these patients, respectively. The 14 patients without preoperative aspiration showed no evidence of aspiration after supraglottoplasty. In patients with aspiration, the mean preoperative laryngopharyngeal stimulation test threshold was 8.45 mm Hg. This improved on average by 4.0 mm Hg after supraglottoplasty (paired t-test, p <0.0001). Multiple medical comorbidities were present in the 5 patients who had persistent aspiration after supraglottoplasty, including congenital heart disease (all 5 patients), congenital syndromes (4 patients), neurologic disorders (2 patients), and a need for tracheostomy (2 patients).
Conclusions: Laryngeal penetration and aspiration improve after cold-knife supraglottoplasty. Supraglottoplasty does not cause aspiration in patients who do not have preoperative aspiration. Supraglottoplasty may not improve aspiration in patients with multiple medical comorbidities.