Delayed Diagnosis of Idiopathic Subglottic Stenosis

Alexandra J. Berges, Ioan A. Lina, Lena Chen, Rafael Ospino, Ruth Davis, Alexander T. Hillel

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Objective: Idiopathic subglottic stenosis (iSGS) is a rare disease, causing life-threatening dyspnea secondary to scarring. Perhaps because it is rarely encountered, there is often a delay in diagnosing iSGS. The objective of this study is to characterize diagnostic delay of iSGS, factors that prolong delay, and its impact on iSGS patients. Study Design: Retrospective chart review. Methods: A retrospective chart review of 124 iSGS patients was performed. Times of symptom onset, presentation to otolaryngologist, diagnosis, imaging, pulmonary function testing (PFTs), surgeries, emergency department (ED) visits, and hospitalizations were recorded and univariate analyses were used to identify risk factors for delay. Results: The median total time to diagnosis from symptom onset was 24.5 months, with time to first presentation of 6.3 months and healthcare delay of 17.8 months. 54.8% of patients were diagnosed with asthma. Earlier presentation to otolaryngologist was associated with shorter healthcare delay and total time to diagnosis (rho = 0.75, rho = 0.99, P <.0001). Earlier CT imaging was correlated to shorter healthcare delay (rho = 0.84, P <.0001) and total time to diagnosis (rho = 0.74, P <.001), while earlier PFTs were correlated to shorter total time to diagnosis alone (rho = 0.71, P =.01). During evaluation, 10.5% (n = 17/124) of patients had ED visits and 13.7% (n = 13/124) patients were hospitalized. Before diagnosis, 7% (9/124) of patients underwent surgeries (including 3% (n = 4) undergoing tracheostomy) and 8% (n = 10) of patients required unplanned urgent endoscopic surgery that may have been avoided with earlier diagnosis. Conclusion: iSGS diagnosis is frequently delayed, resulting in additional surgeries (including tracheostomy), ED visits, and hospitalizations. Further, patients' symptoms are commonly attributed to asthma. Earlier otolaryngologist evaluation, PFTs, and CT imaging may expedite iSGS diagnosis. Level of Evidence: 4 Laryngoscope, 132:413–418, 2022.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)413-418
Number of pages6
Issue number2
StatePublished - Feb 2022

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Otorhinolaryngology


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