Doctor with patient


Airway Reconstruction for Adults

Narrowing of the upper airway can occur as the result of dysfunction and fibrosis in the vocal folds, subglottis, or trachea. These conditions can lead to serious breathing obstruction—in some cases severe enough to require a tracheotomy, a surgical opening in the windpipe below the obstruction that enables breathing. 

A variety of conditions can cause chronic upper airway obstruction, including tumors and neoplasms, trauma, bilateral vocal fold immobility or paralysis, radiation, systemic disease, infections, subglottic stenosis, and tracheal stenosis. 

At Mass. Eye and Ear, our team is highly experienced in airway reconstruction, which surgically corrects stenosis and improves breathing without the need for tracheotomy. In some cases, airway reconstruction can also restore airway function in tracheotomy patients, doing away with the need for the tracheotomy. Not all stenosis cases are treatable by surgery and some forms do not cause a breathing problem. 

Under the right circumstances, our surgeons use a variety of tools and techniques to correct airway obstruction, including:

  • Airway dilation: This procedure stretches the upper airway to increase airflow. Results are immediate, but the procedure must be repeated over time for the best outcome.
  • Endoscopic surgery: Compared to traditional surgery, endoscopic surgery results in less damage to healthy tissue, smaller incisions, fewer breathing and swallowing problems, and faster recovery times.
  • Open surgery: Open airway surgery involves removing the diseased segment and reconstructing the airway. These operations may include the need for tracheotomy and inpatient hospital stays.

To schedule an appointment, request one online or call 617-573-3557 today. You can reach the Voice and Speech Laboratory at 617-573-4050.