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Bacterial Laryngotracheitis and Associated Upper Airway Obstruction: A Case Series.

BACKGROUND: Iatrogenic laryngotracheal stenosis (LTS) continues to be a known complication of indwelling endotracheal tubes (ETTs). It is well established that secondary scar formation caused by inflammation and mucosal injury are the main mechanisms by which stenosis occurs. Additionally, there are reports of bacterial colonization of ETTs and its potential association with tracheal scar formation. We describe 4 cases of patients with history of intubation and/or tracheostomy and presumed LTS that improved with the management of concurrent bacterial laryngotracheitis.

METHODS: A retrospective case series of 4 subjects initially diagnosed at a tertiary care center with posterior glottic or subglottic stenosis and positive bacterial laryngotracheal cultures was performed.

RESULTS: All 4 patients with presumed LTS had culture-proven bacterial growth isolated from the laryngotrachea and were treated with adjunct antibiotics. In the first 3 cases, complete resolution of upper airway obstruction was achieved. The fourth patient had notable improvement in her airway status without the need for additional surgical intervention.

CONCLUSION: This case series suggests that bacterial growth within the airway may play a larger role in adult postintubation airway injury. Those patients presenting with concern for LTS and symptoms suspicious for an ongoing bacterial infection may benefit from adjunct antibiotic therapy.

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