Surgical management of type III and IV laryngotracheoesophageal clefts: The three-layered approach

Kenneth Geller, Young Kim, Jeffrey Koempel, Kathryn D. Anderson

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

23 Scopus citations


Objective: The objective of this paper is to present our surgical experience with a cohort of four infants with laryngotracheoesophageal cleft (LTEC) in order to highlight our early failures and complications and to propose a comprehensive, three-layered approach in treating stages III and IV LTEC. Method: An IRB approved, retrospective chart review was carried out of a cohort of four cases occurring within a 2-year period of time. Results: All patients had other significant anomalies, and the mortality rate was high: 75%. After our initial failures and difficulties with recurrent fistulas, tracheomalacia and tracheotomy dependence, we were able to achieve a successful outcome of a functional separation of the airway and the digestive tract without a tracheotomy in our last two patients. Unfortunately, both these patients died from factors not directly associated with the LTEC so long-term follow up was not possible. We now have one survivor, our second case, who is tracheotomy dependent. Conclusion: Laryngotracheoesophageal clefts are rare congenital anomalies with high morbidity and mortality despite various forms of surgical repair. Fistulas, tracheostomy dependence, tracheomalacia, and chronic lung disease secondary to aspiration are frequent problems following LTEC repairs. We advocate an anterior approach to the cleft repair, a three-layered closure of the cleft to include an interpositional muscular flap, and a physiologic repair of the posterior larynx with a standard cartilage graft technique used in laryngotracheal reconstruction.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)652-657
Number of pages6
JournalInternational Journal of Pediatric Otorhinolaryngology
Issue number6
StatePublished - Jun 2010


  • Laryngotracheoesophageal clefts
  • Surgical repair

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Otorhinolaryngology
  • Pediatrics, Perinatology, and Child Health


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