Laryngomalacia (Pronunciation: la-ring’go-ma-la’she-a), often seen in infants is defined as a soft, floppy larynx, epiglottis, and arytenoid cartilages. The larynx may be so soft that when inhalation occurs the larynx collapses and obstructs the breathing passage.
Symptoms of laryngomalacia include:
Stridor (A high-pitched, noisy respiration, like the blowing of the wind)
Noisy breathing (worse while laying flat on back)
Choking on food
Cyanosis (turning blue)
Please note your child may only experience one symptom and still have laryngomalacia.
Research shows 10% of children with this condition develop respiratory problems, which may require medical intervention. In most cases laryngomalacia spontaneously resolves on its own before the age of two.
There are three categories that describes most cases: Mild, which causes only noisy breathing without significant airway obstruction, feeding issues, or other health issues. Moderate, your child may experience regurgitation (vomiting or spitting up), reflux, feeding difficulties without poor weight gain. Severe, some children may suffer from failure to thrive with feeding difficulty, blue spells (cyanosis), life threatening apnea, along with the other symptoms.
There are many testing options available to confirm you child has laryngomalacia and to determine the severity, such as:
X-Rays of neck and chest
The cause of laryngomalacia is unknown. It does not raise the chances of SIDS.
It is best to speak with an ear, nose, throat specialist (ENT) or a pulmonologist to discuss any possible treatment options.
The most common treatment for mild cases is time. For moderate cases treating the reflux may help, along with time. In severe cases, along with the other treatment options, surgery may be necessary.
There are two surgical options; supraglottoplasty which is when any unneeded floppy tissue of the larynx is trimmed. If the supraglottoplasty does not work the placement of a tracheotomy tube may be needed. Your child would be under general anesthesia and will have to be hospitalized for at least one night. Under some circumstances the supraglottoplasty may have to be done more than once.