Laryngeal Injuries

Laryngeal Injuries: Causes, Symptoms, and Treatments

The larynx is the organ of the throat responsible for producing sound and assisting in breathing. Like other body parts, it may be vulnerable to injuries of various types ranging from minor to severe.

Laryngeal injuries can occur due to direct trauma to the neck, such as from motor vehicle collisions, or due to indirect trauma, such as from intubation, surgery, or infection.

Causes of Laryngeal Injury

The following are the most common causes of laryngeal injury:

  • Motor vehicle collisions
  • Oral and maxillofacial surgeries
  • Infections
  • Intubations
  • Laryngoscopy procedures
  • Smoke inhalation
  • Chemical injuries

Symptoms of a Laryngeal Injury

The following are the common signs and symptoms of a laryngeal injury:

  • Hoarseness
  • Difficulty speaking or loudness
  • Difficulty breathing (dyspnea)
  • Coughing up blood (hemoptysis)
  • Pain in the throat, neck, and chest
  • Fever
  • Swelling of the neck and face

Diagnosing a Laryngeal Injury

If your doctor suspects you have a laryngeal injury, the following tests may be done:

  • X-rays to look for foreign objects that may have been trapped in the throat
  • CT scan or MRI to assess the extent of the injury and any damage to the larynx
  • Endoscopy to examine the shape of the larynx and surrounding tissues
  • Flexible fiberoptic laryngoscopy to view the back of the throat and vocal cords
  • Laboratory tests to evaluate for infection
  • Stroke test (to evaluate function of the vocal cords)

Treatment of a Laryngeal Injury

Treatment of a laryngeal injury depends on the type and extent of the injury. In some cases, medications or a rest and wait approach may be recommended. In more severe cases, surgery may be necessary.

If the injury is due to a foreign object trapped in the throat, it may need to be removed surgically. If the injury is due to burns or a fractured larynx, surgery may also be necessary. Surgery to repair the larynx typically involves restoring any lost tissue and stabilizing the remaining tissue.