Adult acute supraglottitis: Analysis of 358 patients for predictors of airway intervention

Yael Shapira Galitz, Hagit Shoffel-Havakuk, Oded Cohen, Doron Halperin, Yonatan Lahav

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Objectives/Hypothesis: Acute supraglottitis is a potentially life-threatening condition due to rapid onset upper airway obstruction. The study aimed to characterize adult acute supraglottitis patients and to recognize factors associated with an aggressive disease course. Study Design: Retrospective chart review. Methods: All adult acute supraglottitis patients admitted to a single academic medical center between 2000 and 2014 were included and their medical charts reviewed. The main outcome measures were airway intervention and mortality. Results: Three hundred fifty-eight patients were enrolled. Mean age was 53 years (range, 16–92 years), with 62.8% males. Sore throat (79%) and dysphagia (70.9%) were the most common symptoms. Stridor (3.6%), tachypnea (5.7%), and dyspnea (6.4%) were uncommon but significantly associated with airway intervention. The epiglottis was most commonly involved (67%). Involvement of the epiglottis and aryepiglottic folds showed a trend of correlation to airway intervention. Blood glucose levels, C-reactive protein (CRP) levels, and relative neutrophilia were significantly higher in patients admitted to the intensive care unit or requiring airway intervention. Thirty-four patients (9.5%) required intensive care unit admission. Sixteen patients (4.4%) required airway intervention. Recurrent episodes of supraglottitis, seen in 19 patients, were more common in males (P =.048), and tended to have a more severe clinical course, requiring more airway interventions (P =.005) and intensive care unit admissions (P =.016). Conclusions: The typical high risk patient—a male, with dyspnea and stridor, presenting with edema of the epiglottis and aryepiglottic folds, elevated CRP, hyperglycemia, and a history of recurrent episodes—should warrant more aggressive treatment and closer observation. Level of Evidence: 4 Laryngoscope, 127:2106–2112, 2017.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)2106-2112
Number of pages7
Issue number9
StatePublished - Sep 2017
Externally publishedYes


  • Acute supraglottitis
  • adult
  • airway obstruction
  • epiglottitis
  • intubation


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