BACKGROUND. Recurrent respiratory papillomatosis in children is an uncommon but potentially life-threatening benign tumor of the respiratory tract with laryngeal predilection. The diagnosis of recurrent respiratory papillomatosis may be challenging unless there is a high index of suspicion and awareness of the variable presentations.
METHODS. We reviewed the medical charts of children with recurrent respiratory papillomatosis treated at a tertiary children’s hospital. The presentation of recurrent respiratory papillomatosis is illustrated by a series of case reports. We provide a paradigm to assist in the early diagnosis of children with recurrent respiratory papillomatosis.
RESULTS. Five patients, aged 2 to 6 years, were erroneously diagnosed with recurrent croup, asthma, laryngeal hemangioma, and tracheomalacia after presenting with variable degrees of chronic dyspnea, cough, stridor, dysphonia, weak cry, and syncope. Once the diagnosis of recurrent respiratory papillomatosis was made, recurring surgical ablation of papillomata was initiated.
CONCLUSIONS. Any child presenting with a voice disturbance with or without stridor is recommended to have diagnostic flexible fiber-optic laryngoscopy. Recurrent respiratory papillomatosis should be considered in children when other common pediatric airway diseases either do not follow the natural history or do not respond to treatment of the common disorder.
- Accepted June 13, 2006.
- Copyright © 2006 by the American Academy of Pediatrics