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Medical Science Monitor Basic Research


Upper Airway Obstruction Requiring Emergent Tracheostomy Secondary to Laryngeal Sarcoidosis: A Case Report

Unusual clinical course, Management of emergency care, Patient complains / malpractice, Rare disease, Educational Purpose (only if useful for a systematic review or synthesis)

Changwan Ryu, Erica L Herzog, Hongyi Pan, Robert Homer, Mridu Gulati

USA Department of Internal Medicine, Section of Pulmonary, Critical Care, and Sleep Medicine, Yale University School of Medicine, New Haven, CT, USA

Am J Case Rep 2017; 18:157-159

DOI: 10.12659/AJCR.902231

Available online:

Published: 2017-02-13


BACKGROUND: Laryngeal sarcoidosis is a rare extrapulmonary manifestation of sarcoidosis, accounting for 0.33–2.1% of cases. A life-threatening complication of laryngeal sarcoidosis is upper airway obstruction. In this report we describe our experience in the acute and chronic care of a patient who required an emergent tracheostomy, with the aim to provide further insight into this difficult to manage disease.
CASE REPORT: A 37-year-old African American female with a 10-year history of stage 1 sarcoidosis presented with severe dyspnea. Laryngeal sarcoidosis was diagnosed three years previously, and she remained stable on low-dose prednisone until six months prior to admission, at which time she self-discontinued her prednisone for the homeopathic treatment Nopalea cactus juice. Her physical examination was concerning for impending respiratory failure as she presented with inspiratory stridor and hoarseness. Laryngoscopy showed a retroflexed epiglottis obstructing the glottis with edematous arytenoids and aryepiglottic folds. Otolaryngology performed an emergent tracheostomy to secure her airway and obtained epiglottic biopsies, which were consistent with sarcoidosis. She was eventually discharged home on prednisone 60 mg daily. Following months of corticosteroids, a laryngoscopy showed the epiglottis continuing to obstruct the glottis. The addition of methotrexate to a tapered dosage of prednisone 10 mg daily was unsuccessful, and she remains on prednisone 20 mg daily for disease control.
CONCLUSIONS: Laryngeal sarcoidosis, a rare extrapulmonary manifestation of sarcoidosis, uncommonly presents as the life-threatening complication of complete upper airway obstruction. As such, laryngeal sarcoidosis is associated with significant morbidity and mortality, requiring a high index of suspicion for timely diagnosis and treatment.

Keywords: Airway Obstruction, Methotrexate, sarcoidosis, Tracheostomy