Irritant vocal cord dysfunction at first misdiagnosed as reactive airway dysfunction syndrome

Eugenia Galdi, Luca Perfetti, Fabio Pagella, Giulia Bertino, Massimo Ferrari, Gianna Moscato
Scandinavian Journal of Work, Environment & Health 2005, 31 (3): 224-6

OBJECTIVES: This report describes a case of vocal cord dysfunction at first misdiagnosed as reactive airway dysfunction syndrome (RADS).

METHODS: A woman developed recurrent episodes of cough, dyspnea, and wheezing unresponsive to asthma therapy after irritant exposure to glutaraldehyde. Direct laryngoscopy was performed immediately after the induction of symptoms.

RESULTS: Laryngoscopy showed a paradoxical adduction of the vocal cord on inspiration. Vocal cord dysfunction was diagnosed.

CONCLUSIONS: A case of vocal cord dysfunction occurred after exposure to glutaraldhyde in a person with a history highly suggestive of RADS. Vocal cord dysfunction should always be considered in the differential diagnosis of patients with acute respiratory symptoms after exposure to irritants and with asthma-like symptoms that fail to respond to conventional asthma therapy.

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