Difficulty breathing or shortness of breath, which may occur with or without activity
High-pitched noise heard during breathing—stridor
Persistent, barking cough
Increase in phlegm
Breathing problems may worsen over time. At first, breathing may only be difficult during physical activity. As ISGS progresses, you may also have a hard time breathing during rest. If you have acute difficulty breathing, call for emergency medical services right away.
You will be asked about your symptoms and medical history. A physical exam will be done. Pulmonary function tests will also be done to test your ability to move air in and out of your lungs. Your doctor may suspect subglottic stenosis based on the pulmonary tests and medical history.
Imaging tests of the airway may show narrowing. These may include:
ISGS is rare. There is no standard treatment that works for everyone. A combination of treatments may work best.
Treatment for mild stenosis may include:
Watchful waiting—Stenosis is monitored for the appearance of or changes in symptoms that may need treatment.
Medications to control factors that can make stenosis worse, like gastric reflux.
Oral, inhaled, or injected corticosteroids to reduce inflammation and swelling in the airway.
Bronchoscopy with surgery to help open the airway—A scope is passed down the throat to remove scar tissue or a balloon is used to press open the tissue.
Treatment for severe stenosis may include:
—An opening is made through the skin and throat below the narrowed section. A tube is inserted through the opening to allow airflow in and out of the lungs. Tracheostomy may be temporary or permanent.
Stent—Once the airway is opened during bronchoscopy, a mesh or plastic tube is placed into the narrowed section to hold it open.
Open surgery—An incision is made in the neck for 1 of the following:
Laryngotracheal reconstruction—A small section of damaged windpipe is removed. A piece of rib tissue is used to replace the removed tissue.
Cricotracheal resection—The section of damaged windpipe is removed. The remaining airway is reconnected.
Some treatments may produce temporary results and need to be repeated.