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Surgical management of type I and II laryngeal cleft in the pediatric population

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Published:25th Mar 2020


Laryngeal clefts (LC) are congenital malformations of the upper aerodigestive tract that can cause dysphagia, aspiration, and subsequent pulmonary complications. This investigation assessed the outcomes of multidisciplinary evaluation and surgical management of type I and II LC (LC1–2) at a tertiary children's hospital.

Materials and methods:

A retrospective chart review was used to identify patients who underwent repair of LC1–2 by a single surgeon.


Twenty-five patients who underwent surgical management for LC1–2 were identified. Twenty patients with LC-1 and 5 with LC-2 were included. Most common presentations were aspiration on modified barium swallow (MBS) (76%) and recurrent pulmonary infections (60%). Gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD) was a concurrent co-morbidity in 68%.

Of the 19 patients who presented with preoperative aspiration on MBS, 52.6% had evidence of improvement on their first MBS. This improved to 78.9% at the time of their most recent MBS (10 with resolution of aspiration, 5 with improved tolerance of consistencies). Two patients failed to improve from surgical repair and two had worsened aspiration on most recent MBS.


Endoscopic repair of laryngeal clefts is a well-tolerated procedure. Concurrent GERD and positive bronchoalveolar lavage (BAL) cultures are common and require management prior to definitive repair. Given the multidimensional nature of swallowing disorders and aspiration, a comprehensive team approach in the evaluation, management, and surveillance of these patients is a valuable complement to surgical repair since not all aspiration may resolve.

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