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Shortness of breath, wheezing or changes to your voice can all make your world start to feel smaller.

You may no longer be able to keep up the pace you used to at the gym, or even mow the lawn without feeling winded.

You can count on Cleveland Clinic for accurate diagnosis and expert treatment to improve your breathing and restore your voice. Our team includes otolaryngologists (ear, nose and throat specialists), laryngologists (doctors specializing in the voice box) and speech-language pathologists. We collaborate to develop an individualized treatment plan to open your airway and improve breathing and speaking.

Why Choose Cleveland Clinic for Subglottic Stenosis Care?

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Specialized knowledge:

Our laryngologists are fellowship trained, which means they have extra education in treating subglottic stenosis. Our speech-language pathologists also have extra training in conditions affecting the upper airway.

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Caring approach:

We understand that subglottic stenosis can be a life-changing condition. Our compassionate and caring experts include you in decisions about your care and make sure you have the information you need.

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Patient-centered care:

When you have subglottic stenosis, your airway can continue to narrow over time. Our experts are your partners in restoring and maintaining your good health. We’re with you every step of the way, from diagnosis and treatment to ongoing follow-up visits. Meet our team.

Diagnosing Subglottic Stenosis at Cleveland Clinic

Subglottic stenosis can happen after injury or illness. The condition can also occur if you’ve had a tube inserted into your windpipe to help you breathe (intubation). Experts call this acquired subglottic stenosis.

Some babies are born with narrow airways. Experts call this condition congenital subglottic stenosis. In idiopathic subglottic stenosis, healthcare providers aren’t sure what causes the condition to develop.

Our experts diagnose subglottic stenosis with a full evaluation of your airway. We may do:

  • Bronchoscopy: In bronchoscopy, we use an instrument with a light and camera (bronchoscope) to examine your throat, trachea (windpipe) and upper lungs. Experts can see the size of your airway and any narrowing.
  • Imaging tests: Specialists may review X-rays of your neck to examine narrowing of the airway and look for masses.
  • Microlaryngoscopy: We use a flexible instrument with a light and camera (laryngoscope) to examine your larynx (voice box) and airway. This instrument includes a microscope or telescope that helps your provider view magnified detail of your airway.
  • Pulmonary function testing: We use pulmonary function testing, including spirometry, to help confirm a diagnosis of subglottic stenosis. These tests show healthcare providers any lung obstructions.

You may have your airway exam in your healthcare provider’s office. Or, your provider may have you go to the hospital so you can have anesthesia to put you to sleep during the procedure.

Locations

Our healthcare providers see patients at convenient locations throughout Northeast Ohio.

Subglottic Stenosis Treatment at Cleveland Clinic

Our laryngology experts develop treatment plans that help you breathe easier and reduce hoarseness. Depending on how much narrowing you have and your airway function, we may recommend:

Medical management of subglottic stenosis

Specialists may recommend steroid injections or prescribe corticosteroid pills to help improve your airway. You may use an inhaler that contains a corticosteroid. But medications may not be the right treatment for all people with subglottic stenosis.

Endoscopic treatment for subglottic stenosis

We use both rigid and flexible tubes with a light and camera (endoscope) to reach your windpipe with special tools. One thing our experts may do is endoscopic airway dilation. For this treatment, surgeons insert a flexible tube (catheter) through your mouth or nose to place a balloon into your windpipe. We gently inflate the balloon to stretch the tissues in the airway and create more space.

Surgery for subglottic stenosis

When the airway is very narrow, specialists may do tracheostomy so you can breathe. Our specialists typically do this procedure only in emergency situations.

We also perform open airway reconstruction surgery (laryngotracheal reconstruction) if we need to make your windpipe wider. Laryngotracheal reconstruction can reduce the need for tracheostomy and help eliminate the need for a breathing tube.

Taking the Next Step

If you think you have subglottic stenosis, or you’ve already been diagnosed and are looking for the best care, the experts at Cleveland Clinic are here to help. Our extensive experience with this relatively rare condition can help you feel well again and get your life back.

Getting an appointment with Cleveland Clinic’s subglottic stenosis experts is easy. We’re here to help you get the care you need.

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Getting an appointment with Cleveland Clinic’s subglottic stenosis experts is easy. We’re here to help you get the care you need.


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