Laryngotracheal edema due to thermal injury: A complication after thyroidectomy in children

Arch Argent Pediatr. 2017 Feb 1;115(1):e31-e33. doi: 10.5546/aap.2017.eng.e31.
[Article in English, Spanish]


Postoperative respiratory insufficiency is a serious complication of total thyroidectomies which can be multifactorial, especially in children. We report two siblings who had undergone thyroidectomy with subsequent respiratory distress. Electrothermal bipolar and harmonic scalpel were used during thyroid dissections. Both patients had early postoperative respiratory problems. The older one suffered from mild respiratory distress for 24 hours and then he spontaneously recovered. The younger one was extubated but then she had serious stridor accompanied with abdominal and intercostal retractions. She was re-intubated and admitted to ICU for mechanical ventilatory support, where she stayed for 14 days due to multiple failed extubation attempts. The symptoms were more severe in the younger child probably due to softer tracheal wall and weaker tracheal cartilages. We should keep in mind the probable postoperative respiratory complications due to thermal injury or inappropriate surgical technique after thyroid surgeries.

Keywords: child; laryngotracheal edema; thyroidectomy.

Publication types

  • Case Reports

MeSH terms

  • Burns / complications*
  • Burns / etiology
  • Child
  • Child, Preschool
  • Edema / etiology*
  • Electrosurgery / adverse effects*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Intraoperative Complications / etiology
  • Laryngeal Diseases / etiology*
  • Male
  • Postoperative Complications / etiology*
  • Thyroidectomy / adverse effects*
  • Thyroidectomy / methods*
  • Tracheal Diseases / etiology*