Objectives: The objectives of this study are to present the technique and results of endoscopic repair of laryngotracheoesophageal clefts (LTEC) extending caudally to the cricoid plate into the cervical trachea and to revisit the classification of LTEC.
Methods: The authors conducted a retrospective case analysis consisting of four infants with complete laryngeal clefts (extending through the cricoid plate in three cases and down into the cervical trachea in one case) treated endoscopically by CO2 laser incision of the mucosa and two-layer endoscopic closure of the cleft without postoperative intubation or tracheotomy.
Results: All four infants resumed spontaneous respiration without support after a mean postoperative period of 3 days with continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP). They accepted oral feeding within 5 postoperative days (range, 3–11 days). No breakdown of endoscopic repair was encountered. After a mean follow up of 48 months (range, 3 mos to 7 y), all children have a good voice, have no sign of residual aspiration, but experience a slight exertional dyspnea.
Conclusion: This limited experience on the endoscopic repair of extrathoracic LTEC shows that a minimally invasive approach sparing the need for postoperative intubation or tracheotomy is feasible and safe if modern technology (ultrapulse CO2 laser, endoscopic suturing, and postoperative use of CPAP in the intensive care unit) is available.