Laser arytenoidectomy in the management of bilateral vocal cord paralysis in children

Karine Aubry, Nicolas Leboulanger, Robert Harris, Erwan Genty, Françoise Denoyelle, Erea-Noël Garabedian
International Journal of Pediatric Otorhinolaryngology 2010, 74 (5): 451-5

OBJECTIVE: To analyse the efficacy of CO(2) laser arytenoidectomy in the management of bilateral vocal cord paralysis in children.

METHODS: Retrospective series of 17 patients who underwent laser arytenoidectomy for bilateral vocal cord between 1995 and 2008 in a tertiary care institution. All patients had bilateral laryngeal paralysis, in isolation (n=5) or associated with concomitant airway conditions (n=12). All cases had anterior prolapse of the arytenoids with partial obstruction of the airway on inspiration. 12/17 patients (70.5%) were tracheotomy-dependant, 2/17 were in-extubatable, and 3/17 had severe airway limitation, effort dyspnea and poor sleep pattern. Main outcome measures were decannulation rate for patients with tracheotomy, occurrence of aspiration and quality of voice.

RESULTS: The mean age was 2.8 years old. 9/12 patients with tracheotomy (75%) were decannulated with a median delay of 2 months (2 days to 18 months). Both of the intubated patients were extubated with a median delay of 36h. One of the decannulated patients who re-presented with a residual dyspnea after the arytenoidectomy was improved by a further laser cordotomy. 2/17 patients (11.7%) had post-operative persistent aspirations (with pneumopathies in one case), 5/17 patients were dysphonic, 3 improved with speech therapy and 2 with intracordal lipoinjection.

CONCLUSIONS: Laser arytenoidectomy is effective for improving the breathing in children presenting with a bilateral vocal fold paralysis associated with obstructive arytenoid prolapse. Results are good as a first-line surgery or following laryngo-tracheal surgery. Voice outcomes are satisfactory. However, aspiration is a rare complication.

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