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Recurrent Respiratory Papillomatosis

(Laryngeal Papillomas)

By

Udayan K. Shah

, MD, Sidney Kimmel Medical College at Thomas Jefferson University

Last full review/revision Apr 2022
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Recurrent respiratory papillomatosis is a rare, noncancerous (benign) tumor of the respiratory system, commonly affecting the voice box (larynx).

Recurrent respiratory papillomatosis is caused by human papillomavirus Human Papillomavirus (HPV) Infection Human papillomavirus (HPV) causes warts. Some types of HPV cause skin warts, and other types cause genital warts (growths in or around the vagina, penis, or rectum). Infection with some HPV... read more Human Papillomavirus (HPV) Infection (HPV), a virus that causes skin warts and genital warts. Infants may get infected by this virus as they pass through the birth canal if their mother has an HPV infection of her genital region.

HPV infection of the airway can cause multiple, wartlike growths around the voice box Throat The throat (pharynx) is located behind the mouth, below the nasal cavity, and above the hollow tube that leads from the throat to the stomach (esophagus) and windpipe (trachea). It consists... read more and/or in the windpipe (trachea). The growths often come back (recur) after treatment. Rarely, they become cancerous (malignant).

Although laryngeal papillomas can occur at any age, they most commonly affect children aged 1 to 4 years.

Symptoms

Papillomas are suspected when parents notice hoarseness, a weak cry, or other changes in the child’s voice. Older children may have trouble speaking. Papillomas in the windpipe can interfere with breathing.

Diagnosis

  • Biopsy

Laryngeal papillomas are detected using a laryngoscope to view the voice box. Doctors remove a piece of the papilloma for examination (biopsy) to confirm the diagnosis.

Prevention

Treatment

  • Surgical removal

Although some tumors may begin to disappear at puberty, treatment of recurrent respiratory papillomatosis is recommended. Surgical removal is the usual treatment. Many children require numerous procedures throughout childhood to remove the tumors as they reappear.

Other treatments (such as pulsed-dye laser therapy or photodynamic therapy— see Using Lasers to Treat Skin Problems Using Lasers to Treat Skin Problems Using Lasers to Treat Skin Problems ) as well as an antiviral drug (cidofovir) or a drug that is used to treat cancer (bevacizumab) may be given to children who have a severe case.

More Information

The following is an English-language resources that may be useful. Please note that THE MANUAL is not responsible for the content of this resource.

NOTE: This is the Consumer Version. DOCTORS: CLICK HERE FOR THE PROFESSIONAL VERSION
CLICK HERE FOR THE PROFESSIONAL VERSION
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