Airway Stenosis

Appointment New Patient Appointment or 214-645-8300

Airway stenosis (airway narrowing) is a narrowing of the airway caused by malignant and benign tumors, congenital abnormalities, airway injury, endotracheal intubation, tracheostomy, or autoimmune diseases – though sometimes there’s no obvious cause.

Airway stenosis is named according to the location of the narrowing along the airway from the larynx or voice box (laryngeal stenosis, posterior glottic stenosis, or subglottic stenosis) to the trachea (tracheal stenosis) and bronchi (bronchial stenosis).

We feature advanced imaging technology to create a 3-D reconstruction of the area of stenosis for better definition and treatment planning. We work closely with UT Southwestern pulmonologists, thoracic surgeons, oncologists, and speech pathologists to deliver multidisciplinary and comprehensive care.


Airway stenosis or narrowing or the trachea may result in:

  • Cough
  • Frequent bouts of pneumonia or bronchitis
  • A diagnosis of asthma
  • Noisy breathing (stridor, wheezing)
  • Shortness of breath


If we suspect that you have airway stenosis, we will conduct a physical examination and order studies to confirm the diagnosis.

Tests, procedures, and advanced imaging modalities provide the necessary information to evaluate and diagnose airway stenosis. These can include:

Pediatric Airway Stenosis

Airway stenosis can be congenital (present at birth) if the trachea does not properly develop in the womb, but more commonly, it has an external cause, such as prolonged intubation, chest or throat injury, or a chronic inflammatory disease.

UT Southwestern Pediatric Group’s ear, nose, and throat specialists treat all types of airway disorders in children, including laryngeal stenosis (narrowing of the voice box) and tracheal stenosis (a narrowing of the windpipe). We provide compassionate, patient-centered to manage symptoms and restore proper function.

Learn more about our Pediatric Ear, Nose, and Throat Program.


Our team of highly skilled otolaryngologists, interventional pulmonologists, and thoracic surgeons uses a variety of state-of-the-art techniques, including tracheal reconstruction, to preserve the airway (larynx, trachea, and bronchi) and voice.

Treatments include:

  • Airway stenting: Use of a hollow tube to hold the trachea open
  • Bronchoscopic or balloon dilation (expansion) of the trachea: To allow better airflow
  • Laser excision: Use of a laser to destroy abnormal tissue causing the stenosis or obstruction
  • Removal or resection and reconstruction of the narrow portion of the trachea: The damaged portion of the airway is removed and the remaining ends are joined together
  • Steroid injections into the region of narrowing (stenosis); takes place in the clinic

Related Conditions

Our otolaryngology, interventional pulmonology, and thoracic surgery teams treat the full range of conditions that can be associated with airway stenosis. These include:

  • Benign airway tumors
  • Bronchial stenosis
  • Carinal tumors and stenosis
  • Laryngeal stenosis
  • Malignant airway tumors
  • Subglottic and tracheal stenosis
  • Tracheobronchial injuries
  • Tracheobronchial malacia

Clinical Trials

UT Southwestern conducts clinical trials aimed at improving the treatment of airway stenosis. Talk with your doctor to see if a clinical trial is right for you.