Causes and consequences of adult laryngotracheal stenosis

Laryngoscope. 2015 May;125(5):1137-43. doi: 10.1002/lary.24956. Epub 2014 Oct 7.


Objectives/hypothesis: Laryngotracheal stenosis (LTS) is largely considered a structural entity, defined on anatomic terms (i.e., percent stenosis, distance from vocal folds, overall length). This has significant implications for identifying at-risk populations, devising systems-based preventive strategies, and promoting patient-centered treatment. The present study was undertaken to test the hypothesis that LTS is heterogeneous with regard to etiology, natural history, and clinical outcome.

Study design: Retrospective cohort study of consecutive adult tracheal stenosis patients from 1998 to 2013.

Methods: Subjects diagnosed with laryngotracheal stenosis (ICD-9: 478.74, 519.19) between January 1, 1998, and January 1, 2013, were identified. Patient characteristics (age, gender, race, follow-up duration) and comorbidities were extracted. Records were reviewed for etiology of stenosis, treatment approach, and surgical dates. Stenosis morphology was derived from intraoperative measurements. The presence of tracheostomy at last follow-up was recorded.

Results: One hundred and fifty patients met inclusion criteria. A total of 54.7% had an iatrogenic etiology, followed by idiopathic (18.5%), autoimmune (18.5%), and traumatic (8%). Tracheostomy dependence differed based on etiology (P < 0.001). Significantly more patients with iatrogenic (66%) and autoimmune (54%) etiologies remained tracheostomy-dependent compared to traumatic (33%) or idiopathic (0%) groups. On multivariate regression analysis, each additional point on Charlson Comorbidity Index was associated with a 67% increased odds of tracheostomy dependence (odds ratio 1.67; 95% confidence interval 1.04-2.69; P = 0.04).

Conclusions: Laryngotracheal stenosis is not a homogeneous clinical entity. It has multiple distinct etiologies that demonstrate disparate rates of long-term tracheostomy dependence. Understanding the mechanism of injury and contribution of comorbid illnesses is critical to systems-based preventive strategies and patient-centered treatment.

Level of evidence: 4.

Keywords: Tracheal stenosis; intubation; laryngotracheal stenosis; subglottic; tracheostomy.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Diagnosis, Differential
  • Female
  • Follow-Up Studies
  • Humans
  • Laryngostenosis / diagnosis
  • Laryngostenosis / etiology*
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Prognosis
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Severity of Illness Index
  • Tracheal Stenosis / diagnosis
  • Tracheal Stenosis / etiology*
  • Tracheostomy / adverse effects
  • Young Adult