Childhood stridor is a common and significant problem. The variety of etiologies to consider during imaging evaluation can make the diagnosis of stridor challenging. Stridor's harsh, vibratory, variably pitched sound is the result of turbulence in the air flow caused by partial airway obstruction. In a patient with a history of stridor, imaging should be directed at the airway for evidence of infection, posttraumatic injuries, neoplasia, or developmental abnormalities.
This article discusses laryngotracheobronchitis (croup) and the less common epiglottitis, and provides information on imaging for both conditions. Laryngeal papillomatosis, which can have devastating consequences, also is reviewed.
Foreign body aspiration or ingestion may be either acute or chronic, presenting with recurrent infections, cough, and wheezing. Subglottic hemangiomas are discussed, together with their findings on radiographs, MR imaging, and laryngoscopy. Various developmental anomalies may present with less acute onset of symptoms but then progress to severe respiratory distress. Although stridor may result from a benign process, stridor caused by more serious etiologies initially may present with the same symptoms and then progress to more serious and life-threatening complications.