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Respiratory Distress in a Pregnant Woman With Congenital Vocal Cord Paralysis

Putterman, Sherri MD; Figueroa, Reinaldo MD; Garry, David DO

Obstetrics & Gynecology:
Case Reports

BACKGROUND: Vocal cord paralysis is one of the most common congenital laryngeal lesions. Hoarseness and dysphonia are common in unilateral cases. Stridor and respiratory distress are seen in bilateral cases.

CASE: A 33-year-old primigravida with bilateral congenital vocal cord paralysis presented in the third trimester with a 2-week history of bronchitis and progressive shortness of breath. She developed stridor, her respiratory status deteriorated, and she was intubated with difficulty. She went into cardiac arrest, was resuscitated and placed on a ventilator, and a tracheotomy was performed. Her condition improved, she remained stable until 38 weeks, and was delivered by cesarean.

CONCLUSION: Congenital vocal cord paralysis may result in life-threatening respiratory distress during pregnancy. Tracheotomy placement may be useful in the management of these patients.

In Brief

Congenital vocal cord paralysis may result in life-threatening respiratory distress during pregnancy requiring tracheotomy.

Author Information

Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology, Winthrop-University Hospital, Mineola, New York

Address reprint requests to: Reinaldo Figueroa, MD, Winthrop-University Hospital, Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology, 259 First Street, Mineola, NY 11501; E-mail:

Received January 9, 2002. Received in revised form March 13, 2002. Accepted March 21, 2002.

© 2002 The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists