What is it?

Tracheal stenosis is a condition where the trachea (windpipe) becomes narrow or constricted. The most common cause is injury to the trachea that occurs during intubation (the placement of a tube in the windpipe to assist with breathing) but there are a variety of other causes, too. Tracheal stenosis may occur as a symptom of a congenital (from birth) disorder, such as Wegener's granulomatosis, sarcoidosis, or polychondritis. Sometimes, the cause is unknown.

What are the symptoms?

Symptoms include shortness of breath, coughing, cyanosis (a bluish color to the skin) and a heavy wheezing sound known as stridor. Sometimes, children with tracheal stenosis initially are misdiagnosed as having asthma.

How is it treated?

If tracheal stenosis is preventing your child from breathing or endoscopy (PDF), sometimes laser surgery can treat the problem. In other cases, tracheal resection (removal of part of the trachea) may be necessary.

About surgery for tracheal stenosis at Children's

The ENT surgery team at Children's provides next-generation care to neonatal infants, newborns, children, and adolescents from throughout the Upper Midwest. This multidisciplinary team provides some of the most cutting-edge, delicate treatments available, including newborn surgery and minimally invasive surgery. Otolaryngology surgery is performed at Children's - Minneapolis, Children's - St. Paul, and Children's West.

If you are a family member looking for a Children's ENT specialist, visit Find a Doctor.

If you are a health professional looking for a consultation or referral information, please call Children's Physician Referral at 1-866-755-2121 (toll-free).

Return to Children's ENT surgery home page.