Airway Stenosis

​Airway reconstruction for


Dr. Weidenbecher is one of the most experienced surgeons in airway reconstruction for adults to restore natural breathing without the need for tracheotomy. A narrowing (stenosis) at or below the vocal cord level can be related to (intubation) injury, infection, inflammatory conditions, tumors or autoimmune diseases. At MetroHealth Medical Center Dr. Weidenbecher is surrounded by a team of experts to take care of the most challenging airway problems.



A subglottic or tracheal stenosis can sometimes be mistaken for other respiratory disorders, such as asthma, bronchitis, and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD). Common symptoms include:

  • Noisy breathing
  • Shortness of breath during exertion
  • Voice changes
  • Cough
Normal windpipe (trachea)
Normal windpipe (trachea)
Stricture (stenosis) immediately below the vocal cords (subglottis)
Stricture (stenosis) immediately below the vocal cords (subglottis)


A combination of in-office exams and X-rays is often needed to diagnose an airway stricture. Depending on the specific location, the structures are classified as:

  1. Posterior glottic stenosis 
  2. Subglottic stenosis
  3. Tracheal stenosis 


Underlying conditions, which may be associated with the development of the stenosis or which may impact the treatment of the stenosis will have to be addressed first. Depending on the specific type of stenosis Dr. Weidenbecher may recommend any of the following minimal invasive or complex open procedures: 

Minimal invasive procedures

Balloon dilation: A balloon is inserted into the subglottic or tracheal stenosis and inflated to dilate it open. This is sometimes combined with laser in-/ excision of scar tissue. Medications to prevent scar reformation can also be applied during this procedure. 

Steroid injection:  Steroids can be injected it into the subglottic or tracheal stenosis to control scar formation  usually without causing any of the known side effects of steroids. In many cases, injections of the stenosis can be done in the office. Autoimmune or idiopathic subglottic stenosis often respond very well to this therapy so that patients can often avoid having to go the operating room.  

Endoscopic repair of posterior glottic stenosis:​ Some strictures around the vocal folds can be exclusively managed endoscopically by performing complex surgical techniques as well as by applying medication to reduce scar tissue to the affected area.  Dr. Weidenbecher has developed an endoscopic technique that will allow some patients to regain vocal cord function and  get rid of their tracheostomy. 

For more information on repair of posterior glottic stenosis, click HERE

Complex Airway Reconstruction

Dr. Weidenbecher has significant experience in performing complex airway repair for subglottic or tarcehal stenosis. In some cases, the affected stenotic segment is surgically removed and both healthy ends are rejoined (cricotracheal or tracheal resection). In other cases, Dr. Weidenbecher uses tissue (e.g cartilage)  from other body areas to reconstruct larynx and trachea (Laryngotracheal reconstruction). ​ 

To view a list of Dr. Weidenbecher's publications on tracheal repair and research, click HERE.

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Healthy & Happy Patients

Our Satisfied Patients

I have had a good experience with Dr. Weidenbecher since he previously did surgery on me. He is very knowledgeable and I would recommend him.


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