Management of laryngotracheal trauma
Laryngotracheal trauma is a rare but potentially life-threatening injury. It is usually seen in multiple-trauma patients and can go unrecognized and undertreated due to its scarcity. The presenting symptoms often do not correlate with the severity of the injury and injuries may range from an endolaryngeal hematoma to a complete tracheal transection. Accurate diagnosis of the extent of the injury can be achieved with a combination of high resolution computed tomography, flexible fiber optic laryngoscopy and flexible bronchoscopy. Treatment may include observation with symptomatic management, reduction and repair of laryngeal skeletal fractures, or complete tracheal or laryngeal reconstruction. Endolaryngeal stents are reserved for use in cases of significant mucosal trauma or injuries that disrupt the anterior commissure of the larynx. The most important goal in management is to first secure and reconstruct the airway. Once this has been achieved, the long-term goal of treatment is to restore the voice and swallowing mechanism.