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Angioedema of the upper aerodigestive tract: risk factors associated with airway intervention and management algorithm

Authors

  • Christopher D. Brook MD,

    Corresponding author
    1. Department of Otolaryngology–Head and Neck Surgery, Boston Medical Center, Boston, MA
    • Correspondence to: Christopher D. Brook, MD, Otolaryngology–Head and Neck Surgery, Boston Medical Center, 820 Harrison Avenue, FGH Building, 4th Floor, Boston, MA 02118; e-mail: chris.brook@bmc.org

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  • Anand K. Devaiah MD,

    1. Department of Otolaryngology–Head and Neck Surgery, Boston Medical Center, Boston, MA
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  • Elizabeth M. Davis MD

    1. Department of Otolaryngology–Head and Neck Surgery, Boston Medical Center, Boston, MA
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  • Potential conflict of interest: None provided.

Abstract

Background

Angioedema of the upper aerodigestive tract can lead to significant airway obstruction. To date no articles have delineated risk factors for progression after initial evaluation.

Methods

This article presents the results of a retrospective study of patients with angioedema at a single institution. Patients included were consecutive otolaryngology consultations for angioedema in the emergency department (ED) from 1999 to 2003. All patients were evaluated by an otolaryngologist and underwent fiber-optic laryngoscopy, which was repeated serially depending on findings. Data was collected on demographics, comorbidities, intubation, disposition, and progression of angioedema.

Results

A total of 177 patients were included in the study: 32 (18%) patients required intubation; 25 (14%) on initial presentation and 7 (4%) who progressed from an initially stable airway to requiring intervention after reevaluation. Analysis of variance (ANOVA) demonstrated a statistically significant variance between location of edema and rate of intubation, with higher rates in the pharynx and larynx vs the lip and face. Patients who required intubation after progression between serial evaluations were statistically more likely to have edema that involved deeper portions of the aerodigestive tract. Patients who required intubation were statistically more likely to be older (average age 61.8 vs 55.1 years, p = 0.03).

Conclusion

In this large series of patients managed for aerodigestive angioedema we demonstrate risk factors associated with airway intervention, and risk factors associated with clinical progression on serial examination to airway intervention. In addition, we demonstrate a successful management algorithm for patients with aerodigestive angioedema.

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