Neonatal upper airway assessment by awake flexible laryngoscopy

Robert G. Berkowitz*

*Corresponding author for this work

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

    41 Citations (Scopus)


    Awake flexible laryngoscopy (AFL) provides simple and quick assessment of both the structure and function of the upper airway. To determine its value in neonates, a prospective study was carried out over 2 years of 110 neonates (80 term, 30 premature) under 6 weeks of age (corrected for prematurity) presenting with symptoms suggestive of upper airway disease who underwent AFL performed by the author. A diagnosis was made in 79 cases, while no cause was found for the symptoms in 31. The commonest diagnoses vocal cord paralysis (29; bilateral 16, unilateral 13), nasal stenosis (9), laryngomalacia (9), glossoptosis (7), subglottic stenosis (6), and choanal atresia (5; bilateral 2, unilateral 3). The AFL was repeated in 31 neonates and the condition was found to be stable in 16, improved in 8, resolved in 2, and progressed in 1, and an additional diagnosis was made in 4. Endoscopy under general anesthesia with or without corrective surgery was performed in 15 neonates (7 also having repeat AFL). The diagnosis was controlled in 14 and an additional tracheal abnormality was found in 1. The AFL was complicated by cyanosis in 2 neonates and epistaxis in 1, but all complications resolved with minimal intervention. These data suggest that the neonatal upper airway can be relatively safely and reliably assessed by AFL performed by an experienced clinician.

    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)75-80
    Number of pages6
    JournalAnnals of Otology, Rhinology and Laryngology
    Issue number1
    Publication statusPublished - 1998


    • Flexible laryngoscopy
    • Neonatal upper airway obstruction

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