Endoscopic percutaneous suture lateralization for neonatal bilateral vocal fold immobility

Int J Pediatr Otorhinolaryngol. 2018 May:108:120-124. doi: 10.1016/j.ijporl.2018.02.032. Epub 2018 Mar 21.


Objective: Bilateral vocal-fold immobility (BFVI) is a rare but significant cause of severe respiratory distress in neonates. The primary aim of treatment is to provide an adequate airway while minimizing adverse effects such as aspiration and dysphonia. Our objective here is to describe the outcomes of a series of neonates undergoing percutaneous endoscopic suture lateralization for BVFI using a novel technique.

Methods: In this retrospective case series, we present 6 neonates (mean age: 18 days) with BVFI from three tertiary academic medical centers. The etiologies included 4 idiopathic, 1 unspecified neurodegenerative disorder, and 1 acquired from cardiac surgery. All had stridor and respiratory distress with hypoxemia requiring respiratory support at diagnosis. Endoscopic vocal-fold lateralization was performed under spontaneous-breathing suspension laryngoscopy using a novel technique of percutaneous needle-directed placement of 4-0 prolene suture without use of specialized equipment.

Results: All patients had clinical improvement in stridor and respiratory support requirements and avoided tracheostomy. One patient had persistent aspiration after lateralization that resolved after suture removal. One patient required bilateral lateralization procedures. One patient expired of epilepsy due to neurodegenerative disease unrelated to airway pathology. At last follow-up (mean 12.6 months), 5/5 remaining patients were on room air without tracheostomy and feeding orally without aspiration; 4/5 had partial or complete return of vocal-fold function.

Conclusion: Endoscopic percutaneous suture lateralization may be a safe and effective non-destructive primary treatment modality for neonatal BVFI. All neonates undergoing this procedure avoided tracheotomy.

Keywords: Airway; Endoscopic; Lateralization; Neonatal; Vocal-fold paralysis.

MeSH terms

  • Female
  • Humans
  • Infant
  • Infant, Newborn
  • Laryngoscopy / adverse effects
  • Laryngoscopy / methods*
  • Male
  • Respiratory Sounds / etiology
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Suture Techniques / adverse effects*
  • Sutures
  • Treatment Outcome
  • Vocal Cord Paralysis / surgery*
  • Vocal Cords / surgery*