Objective: Functional laryngeal dyskinesia (FLD) is characterized by signs and symptoms of airway obstruction without anatomic basis. Failure to recognize its features often leads to inappropriate diagnostic studies and therapies. A systematic approach is presented for the recognition and management of patients with this disorder.
Design: A retrospective case series at a large, urban tertiary care academic hospital.
Methods: Retrospective review of charts of adults and children diagnosed with FLD between 1979 and 1996. Presenting symptoms and signs of FLD were categorized and methods of diagnosis were recorded. Therapeutic interventions and resolution of FLD at follow-up were also analyzed.
Results: Ten patients were identified with FLD, seven females and three males, with mean age of 25.9 years at diagnosis (range, 10-59 y). Patients were hospitalized a mean of three times (range, 1 to 6 admissions) before FLD was correctly diagnosed. Nine patients were receiving treatment for asthma prior to diagnosis. Flow volume loops most often showed a fixed extrathoracic inspiratory. Arterial blood gas and radiographic data were essentially normal. The most useful diagnostic test was fiberoptic laryngoscopy, which showed abnormal adduction of the vocal cords on inspiration in the nine patients in this series who underwent laryngoscopy.
Conclusions: The authors' experience with FLD shows that its early recognition is associated with fewer interventions and their accompanying risks. A high degree of suspicion is required in these patients, who are often young and well educated. They present with stridor that may disappear while they are asleep or after distraction techniques.