What are the treatments?

There are several different treatment options for airway stenosis, and which one is best for you will depend very much on the cause of the stenosis and your general health. Each case is different, and it is very important that you talk to your doctor about the options that are best for you, as they will know about your medical history and will have up-to-date information on treatments. Generally speaking, there are three broad categories of treatment:

  • Endoscopic surgery (sometimes called ‘keyhole surgery’ or ‘minimally invasive surgery’)
  • Open surgery
  • Medical treatment
  • Tracheotomy

Tracheotomy is usually a last resort, and often aquired as an emergency in order to let the patient breathe safely. In most circumstances, this would not be a long term solution.

“My son had a tracheotomy, and it didn’t bother him at all. As his carer, it was not a bother changing it at all. The only problem he has was getting embarrased as he started school with other children looking, as they didn’t know what it was and asking questions” – Aileen Mahon


More Treatment Information

If surgery is an option, your doctor will almost always try endoscopic surgery before open surgery. Endoscopic surgery normally involves using a laser to remove part of the stenosis, or using a technique called dilatation. The effects of these treatments are not usually long-term, and people usually need further treatment. However, these treatments usually have good short-term effects and they will give you temporary relief. This will give you and your doctor time to get a clearer picture of what is happening, and to talk about your options.

After endoscopic surgery, stents are sometimes used to help manage the condition long-term. A stent is a tube that’s placed in the affected area to help support it and keep your airway open. A long-term tracheotomy is also an option, especially for people who have other medical problems.

If endoscopic surgery doesn’t work, open surgery might be an option. A tracheal resection involves taking out the part of the windpipe where the stenosis is, and then re-joining the ends. This is major surgery, so there are risks involved and it can take a while to recover from it. However, the success rates are usually high, with long term benefits.

“I’ve had two resections. I would say that if it is recommended as a viable treatment for you, do it. It could be the fix you are looking for” – Vicky Keeley

If you have an underlying medical condition that is causing the airway stenosis, this will probably need to be treated before surgery can be effective. If there is an infection in the area, treatment with anti-biotics or anti-fungal medication is usually needed. In the case of autoimmune diseases like Wegener’s granulomatosis, or where the stenosis is a malignant growth, the underlying disease will need to be treated, normally using treatments such as chemotherapy and corticosteroids. Please visit the ‘links’ section for links to websites that provide information on autoimmune diseases or cancer if you would like to know more about treatments for these conditions.

“I was scared when I had my first balloon laser dilatation, because I didn’t know what was going to happen. It all went fine though, and I woke up with a bit of a sore throat which would disappear after 24 hours.”