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Airway stenosis is a narrowing in the airway that obstructs the passage of air into the lungs. A child may be born with this condition when the trachea does not properly form while in the womb. Airway stenosis can also be caused by an external injury to the throat or chest, a chronic inflammatory disease (such as papillomatosis, Wegener's granulomatosis, amyloidosis or sarcoidosis), certain infections (including tuberculosis), noncancerous or cancerous tumors that press against the trachea and restrict the normal flow of air or radiation therapy of the neck or chest.
Tracheal stenosis and subglottic stenosis are two types of airway stenosis. Tracheal stenosis is a narrowing of the windpipe (trachea) that can occur due to radiation therapy, prolonged use of a breathing tube or other factors. Subglottic stenosis (SGS) is a narrowing of the airway immediately below the vocal cords (subglottis), at the level of the cricoid cartilage and above the trachea.
Symptoms of airway stenosis include:
Your child's doctor can diagnose airway stenosis by running one or more of the following tests:
If your child has airway stenosis, the doctor will likely need to perform surgery to open up the narrowed area to help him or her breathe easier. Depending on your child’s condition and specific situation, the doctor may recommend an endoscopic (minimally invasive) surgery which involves using instruments to open up the stenosis. Sometimes open surgery may be needed to correct the stenosis, which can involve either opening up the narrowed area with a graft or stent (known as expansion surgery) or by removing the obstructed area (known as resection surgery).
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