Airway Abnormalities in Children 

Airway problems can range from uncomplicated stridor (high-pitched, noisy breathing) to life-threatening airway obstructions. At the University of Chicago Medicine Comer Children's Hospital, our otolaryngologists use advanced equipment and techniques to precisely diagnose and treat these conditions.

If surgery is required, our surgeons use endoscopic techniques, when appropriate, to minimize pain and reduce scarring. When necessary, our UCAN helicopter transports children to Comer Children's for acute care in our intensive care unit, where our pediatric otolaryngologists work closely with our expert pediatric critical care team to identify problems and resolve them.

What We Treat

An increasing number of children are being diagnosed with gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD). GERD can cause a variety of ear, nose, and throat problems. Awareness of the role of GERD in these conditions is the key to successful treatment. At Comer Children's Hospital, pediatric otolaryngologists work with pediatric gastroenterologists and pediatric surgeons to provide a comprehensive multidisciplinary approach to managing GERD.

This can be present at birth or shortly after. It tends to get worse while the child is increasing activity and then improves and goes away by itself in 12-18 months. About 1-2 percent may require surgery if there is any sleep apnea, respiratory distress or failure to thrive. 

Subglottic stenosis (noisy breathing) is a condition that your child may be born with or develop. This condition can be a result of having a breathing tube present. It can often get worse when your child has an upper respiratory infection. This condition may be treated with observation, medications, or surgical procedures.

Tracheostomy is a surgical opening through the neck and into the windpipe through which a special tube is placed to allow an infant or child to breathe through. In some cases the tube is attached to a ventilator.

These can range from having one or both of the vocal cords not moving to moving abnormally, nodules or other masses present. This often requires a complete history and physical as well as evaluating the vocal cords while the patient is awake.