Pediatric Airway Disorders

Subglottic Cysts

Subglottic cysts are almost always associated with a period of intubation. They may occur as single or multiple cysts and may obstruct most of the airway beneath the larynx. These small cysts are often filled with clear or tan fluid. Subglottic stenosis is commonly associated with subglottic cysts.

What are the symptoms of subglottic cysts? 

Symptoms include:

How are subglottic cysts diagnosed?

Image endoscopic view of multiple subglottic cysts.
Endoscopic view of multiple subglottic cysts.

There are a few different methods a doctor might use to diagnose subglottic cysts:

How are subglottic cysts treated?

A microdebrider excision of a subglottic cyst.
To treat a subglottic cyst, the doctor will remove the wall of the cyst during endoscopy using either a CO2 laser or a microdebrider. When the side wall is removed fluid will come out immediately, deflating the cyst. Your child will likely be watched overnight in the hospital in case there is any airway swelling.

There is a small chance that cysts will recur after they're deflated, so your child should be scoped again a few months later.


Ransom ER, Antunes MB, Smith LP, Jacobs IN. Microdebrider resection of acquired subglottic cysts: Case series and review of the literature. Int J Pediatr Otorhinolaryngol. Int J Pediatr Otorhinolaryngol. 2009 Dec;73(12):1833-6. Epub 2009 Oct 17.

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