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Recurrent Respiratory Papillomatosis

(Laryngeal Papillomas)


Udayan K. Shah

, MD, Sidney Kimmel Medical College at Thomas Jefferson University

Last review/revision Apr 2022 | Modified Sep 2022
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Recurrent respiratory papillomatosis is a rare, benign, viral airway tumor that is caused by the human papillomavirus Human Papillomavirus (HPV) Infection Human papillomavirus (HPV) infects epithelial cells. Most of the > 100 subtypes infect cutaneous epithelium and cause skin warts; some types infect mucosal epithelium and cause anogenital warts... read more Human Papillomavirus (HPV) Infection . The most common way for patients to present is with laryngeal papillomas. Diagnosis includes laryngoscopy and biopsy. Treatment is excision.

Recurrent respiratory papillomatosis most often occurs in the larynx as laryngeal papillomas. Laryngeal papillomas can occur at any age but are most common at ages 1 to 4 years. They may reappear after treatment, undergo malignant transformation, and/or occasionally spread to the trachea or lungs.

Symptoms and Signs

Symptoms of recurrent respiratory papillomatosis can include weak cry, hoarseness, and, in severe cases, airway obstruction.


  • Laryngoscopy

  • Biopsy

The tumor is identified by laryngoscopy. Recurrent respiratory papillomatosis may be a solitary lesion or it may manifest as multiple lesions. The diagnosis of recurrent respiratory papillomatosis is confirmed by biopsy.


  • Excision

Treatment of recurrent respiratory papillomatosis is by excision. Because tumors may recur in weeks or months, multiple procedures may be required and surveillance by laryngoscopy and bronchoscopy is necessary. Surgery may involve pulsed-dye laser therapy or photodynamic therapy.

Treatment reference

  • 1. Derkay CS, Bluher AE: Update on recurrent respiratory papillomatosis. Otolaryngol Clin North Am 52(4):669–679, 2019. doi: 10.1016/j.otc.2019.03.011

Drugs Mentioned In This Article

Drug Name Select Trade
Alymsys, Avastin, MVASI, Zirabev
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NOTE: This is the Professional Version. CONSUMERS: View Consumer Version
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