Airway Exam Rare in Infants With Life-Threatening Events

Need for otolaryngologic surgical intervention also quite uncommon

TUESDAY, April 19 (HealthDay News) -- Well-appearing infants hospitalized with apparent life-threatening events (ALTEs) rarely undergo airway evaluation or require subsequent otolaryngologic surgical intervention, according to research published in the April issue of the Archives of Otolaryngology -- Head & Neck Surgery.

Mark W. Willis, M.D., of the University of Utah School of Medicine in Salt Lake City, and colleagues conducted a retrospective observational study of 471 infants less than 1 year old with an ALTE to assess the role of pediatric otolaryngology service in caring for these patients.

The researchers found that nine of the patients underwent airway evaluation via bronchoscopy, laryngoscopy, or both. Three of these patients had laryngomalacia, one had adenotonsillar hypertrophy, and the remaining five had normal findings. There were three interventions, consisting of two supraglottoplasties and one adenotonsillectomy.

"Among well-appearing infants hospitalized with an ALTE, 98.1 percent (462 of 471) did not undergo subsequent airway evaluation, and only 0.6 percent (3 of 471) ultimately required pediatric otolaryngologic surgical intervention during five years after the event. This study shows that otolaryngologists are not frequently consulted for well-appearing infants with an ALTE and that airway abnormalities are rare," the authors write.

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