Glottic and Subglottic Injury and Development of Pediatric Airway Stenosis

Otolaryngol Head Neck Surg. 2023 Mar;168(3):469-477. doi: 10.1177/01945998221100829. Epub 2023 Jan 28.


Objective: To determine how often children with airway injury at the time of tracheostomy develop airway stenosis.

Study design: A 7-year retrospective review of a prospectively maintained database of pediatric patients who underwent endotracheal intubation followed by tracheostomy with concurrent and follow-up direct laryngoscopy.

Setting: Tertiary care hospital.

Methods: Outcomes included glottic or subglottic injury and progression to stenosis. Univariate and multivariate analyses were performed via SPSS.

Results: Of the 222 patients (median age at surgery, 0.6 years; 54% male) who met study criteria, 46% had airway injury at the time of tracheostomy. Patients with congenital cardiovascular disease had 2.33-times increased risk of developing airway injury (P = .01). Patients with airway injury on initial direct laryngoscopy developed stenosis significantly more frequently than those without injury (30% vs 12%, P < .01). Risks factors for developing stenosis in children with airway injury include prematurity (P = .02), younger age at time of surgery (P < .01), endotracheal tube size (P < .01), Down syndrome (P = .03), and neonatal (P = .02) and/or congenital cardiovascular (P < .01) diagnosis. However, none of these variables were significant on multivariate analysis.

Conclusions: Intubated patients with evidence of glottic or subglottic injury at the time of tracheotomy are more likely to develop airway stenosis than those without. Congenital heart disease was associated with twice the risk of developing airway injury, while progression to stenosis was associated with younger age, prematurity, and/or comorbid diagnoses.

Keywords: airway injury; glottic injury; postintubation stenosis; subglottic stenosis.

MeSH terms

  • Child
  • Constriction, Pathologic / surgery
  • Female
  • Glottis* / surgery
  • Humans
  • Infant
  • Infant, Newborn
  • Intubation, Intratracheal / adverse effects
  • Laryngoscopy / adverse effects
  • Laryngostenosis* / surgery
  • Male
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Tracheostomy / adverse effects
  • Tracheotomy / adverse effects