Purpose of review: Vocal fold paralysis (VFP) is an increasingly commonly identified problem in the pediatric patient. Diagnostic and management techniques honed in adult laryngologic practice have been successfully applied to children.
Recent findings: Iatrogenic causes, including cardiothoracic procedures, remain a common cause of unilateral VFP. Neurologic disorders predominate in the cause of bilateral VFP. Diagnosis with electromyography is currently being evaluated in children. Treatment of VFP is centered around symptomology, which is commonly divided between voice and airway concerns. Speech therapy shows promise in older children. Surgical management for unilateral VFP with injection laryngoplasty is commonly performed and well tolerated. Laryngeal reinnervation is currently being applied to the pediatric population as a permanent treatment and offers several advantages over laryngeal framework procedures. For bilateral VFP, tracheotomy is still commonly performed. Glottic dilation procedures are performed both openly and endoscopically with a high degree of success.
Summary: VFP is a well recognized problem in pediatric patients with disordered voice and breathing. Some patients will spontaneously recover their laryngeal function. For those who do not, a variety of reliable techniques are available for rehabilitative treatment.