Laryngotracheal reconstruction

Laryngotracheal reconstruction is a surgical procedure that involves expanding or removing parts of the airway to widen a narrowing within it, called laryngotracheal stenosis or subglottic stenosis.


Anterior graft - can be thyroid ala cartilage or costal cartilage

Thyroid ala cartilage graft

Costal cartilage graft

Posterior graft - made from costal cartilage

Costal cartilage graft

Anterior and posterior graft - made from costal cartilage

Costal cartilage grafts

Resection Techniques

Cricotracheal resection

Tracheal resection

Slide tracheoplasty

Combined Expansion and Resection Techniques

Slide tracheoplasty into cricoid split

Slide tracheoplasty with tracheal resection


The first description of the anterior cricoid split appears in the early 1900s by Killian and the first description of the posterior cricoid split is credited to Galebsky in 1927.[1][2] In 1938, Looper rotated the hyoid bone to augment a stenotic adult laryngeal fracture sustained in a railroad accident.[3] In 1968, Lapidot used this principle in piglets to show that a flap of thyroid cartilage rotated on perichondrium to replace a segment of resected cricoid cartilage could survive, suggesting that laryngeal growth could continue after reconstruction without restenosis.[4]

Great advances in open airway reconstruction were made in the 1970s, many of which occurred in Toronto, Canada. In 1971, Fearon and Ellis described a child with severe subglottic stenosis who, after failed dilatations and anterior cricoid split with auricular cartilage graft augmentation, eventually underwent tracheotomy, placement of an anterior costal cartilage graft with buccal mucosa and a stent and was eventually decannulated.[5] Fearon and Cotton further investigated tracheal augmentation using thyroid cartilage (harvested from the inferior border) in African green monkeys and proved that the cricoid could be divided without inhibition of laryngeal growth.[6] In 1976, Fearon and Cinnamond reported on 35 patients operated on using this technique between 1970 and 1976, noting that free thyroid grafts were more feasible than pedicled grafts and that costal cartilage was most suitable for repairing long segment stenoses.[7] They also proposed that shaping anterior costal cartilage grafts with flanges might prevent them from being displaced inward into the trachea. Cotton would later be the first to describe in detail the process of harvesting, carving and insetting an anterior costal cartilage graft along with his success using this technique in 11 children after moving to Cincinnati.[8] In 1973, Crysdale visited Grahne in Helsinki, Finland, to observe an anterior-posterior cricoid split with stent placement and was the first to perform this procedure in a child in North America.[9] A search for less morbid sources of cartilage for anterior cricoid augmentation in neonates allowed Park and Forte (1999) to demonstrate that bilateral cartilaginous grafts could be harvested from the superior aspect of the thyroid cartilage in kittens without airway compromise.[10] Success using this technique was later demonstrated in 2001 by Forte, Chang, and Papsin in a series of 17 children.[11] For more severe subglottic stenoses, Gerwat and Bryce (1974) described the first cricotracheal resection with preservation of the recurrent laryngeal nerves.[12] Pearson and Gullane would later report their success using this procedure over the ensuing 22 years in 80 consecutive adults with benign subglottic stenosis.[13] Impressed by the results of Gerwat and Bryce, Monnier, Savary, and Chapuis performed the first cricoid resection with primary anastomosis in a child in 1978.[14]


  1. Propst, Evan; Tirado, Yamilet; Abdulkader, Faisal; Estrada, Marvin; et al. (2014). Airway reconstruction surgical dissection manual. San Diego, California: Plural. ISBN 978-1-59756-572-1.
  2. Winslow, JR (1909). "Report of cases illustrating our progress in the surgical treatment of chronic stenosis of the larynx and trachea". Laryngoscope. 19: 773–784. doi:10.1288/00005537-190910000-00008.
  3. Rethi, A (1956). "An operation for cicatricial stenosis of the larynx". J Laryngol Otol. 70: 283–293. doi:10.1017/s0022215100052920.
  4. Lapidot, A.; Sodagar, R.; Ratanaprashtporn, S.; Silverman, R. (1968-11-01). "Experimental repair of subglottic stenosis in piglets. "Trapdoor" thyrochondroplasty flap". Archives of Otolaryngology (Chicago, Ill.: 1960). 88 (5): 529–535. doi:10.1001/archotol.1968.00770010531014. ISSN 0003-9977. PMID 5684580.
  5. Fearon, B.; Ellis, D. (1971-10-01). "The management of long term airway problems in infants and children". The Annals of Otology, Rhinology, and Laryngology. 80 (5): 669–677. doi:10.1177/000348947108000508. ISSN 0003-4894. PMID 4999921.
  6. Fearon, B.; Cotton, R. (1972-08-01). "Surgical correction of subglottic stenosis of the larynx. Prelimenary report of an experimental surgical technique". The Annals of Otology, Rhinology, and Laryngology. 81 (4): 508–513. doi:10.1177/000348947208100408. ISSN 0003-4894. PMID 4626647.
  7. Fearon, B.; Cinnamond, M. (1976-12-01). "Surgical correction of subglottic stenosis of the larynx. Clinical results of the Fearon-Cotton operation". The Journal of Otolaryngology. 5 (6): 475–478. ISSN 0381-6605. PMID 1011329.
  8. Cotton, R. (1978-09-01). "Management of subglottic stenosis in infancy and childhood. Review of a consecutive series of cases managed by surgical reconstruction". The Annals of Otology, Rhinology, and Laryngology. 87 (5 Pt 1): 649–657. doi:10.1177/000348947808700509. ISSN 0003-4894. PMID 718062.
  9. Crysdale, W. S. (1976-12-01). "Extended laryngofissure in the management of subglottic stenosis in the young child: a preliminary report". The Journal of Otolaryngology. 5 (6): 479–486. ISSN 0381-6605. PMID 1011330.
  10. Park, A. H.; Forte, V. (1999-02-01). "Effect of harvesting autogenous laryngeal cartilage for laryngotracheal reconstruction on laryngeal growth and support". The Laryngoscope. 109 (2 Pt 1): 307–311. ISSN 0023-852X. PMID 10890784.
  11. Forte, V.; Chang, M. B.; Papsin, B. C. (2001-07-02). "Thyroid ala cartilage reconstruction in neonatal subglottic stenosis as a replacement for the anterior cricoid split". International Journal of Pediatric Otorhinolaryngology. 59 (3): 181–186. doi:10.1016/s0165-5876(01)00479-7. ISSN 0165-5876. PMID 11397499.
  12. Gerwat, J.; Bryce, D. P. (1974-06-01). "The management of subglottic laryngeal stenosis by resection and direct anastomosis". The Laryngoscope. 84 (6): 940–957. doi:10.1288/00005537-197406000-00007. ISSN 0023-852X. PMID 4832376.
  13. Pearson, F. G.; Gullane, P. (1996-10-01). "Subglottic resection with primary tracheal anastomosis: including synchronous laryngotracheal reconstructions". Seminars in Thoracic and Cardiovascular Surgery. 8 (4): 381–391. ISSN 1043-0679. PMID 8899925.
  14. Monnier, P.; Savary, M.; Chapuis, G. (1993-11-01). "Partial cricoid resection with primary tracheal anastomosis for subglottic stenosis in infants and children". The Laryngoscope. 103 (11 Pt 1): 1273–1283. doi:10.1288/00005537-199311000-00011. ISSN 0023-852X. PMID 8231582.
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