Location of airway obstruction in term and preterm infants with laryngomalacia

Am J Otolaryngol. Jul-Aug 2012;33(4):437-40. doi: 10.1016/j.amjoto.2011.10.021. Epub 2011 Dec 16.


Objective: The aim of this study was to describe and compare the airway findings in term and preterm infants with laryngomalacia.

Methods: A retrospective review of 130 patients diagnosed as having laryngomalacia at a tertiary referral center between July 2004 and August 2009 was conducted. Medical records were reviewed for demographic data, supraglottic and glottic airway findings, concomitant airway lesions, and the need for intervention.

Results: The mean gestational age and age at diagnosis was 36 and 15 weeks, respectively. Combined posterior and anterior supraglottic collapse was the most common finding (31%). Posterior collapse alone occurred in 25%, anterior collapse in 14%, and lateral collapse in 10%. Twelve percent of patients had all 3 sites of collapse. Forty-one percent of patients had a secondary airway lesion, with tracheomalacia being the most common. Preterm infants had significantly higher rates of reflux and more sites of collapse than did term infants (P < .0001). Eight patients required an intervention for their symptoms.

Conclusions: Children with laryngomalacia tend to have more than 1 area of supraglottic collapse, and more than one third have a secondary lesion. All patients who required an intervention had more than 1 area of collapse, and 63% of these patients had a secondary airway lesion. Our high incidence of secondary lesions is similar to recent reports.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study

MeSH terms

  • Airway Obstruction / epidemiology
  • Airway Obstruction / pathology*
  • Female
  • Gestational Age
  • Humans
  • Incidence
  • Infant
  • Infant, Newborn
  • Infant, Premature
  • Laryngomalacia / pathology*
  • Retrospective Studies