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Canadian Respiratory Journal
Volume 22 (2015), Issue 3, Pages 171-175
Original Article

Surgical Versus Nonsurgical Interventions to Relieve upper Airway Obstruction in Children with Pierre Robin Sequence

Karen Kam,1 Meghan McKay,2 Joanna MacLean,3 Manisha B Witmans,3 Sheldon Spier,2 and Ian Mitchell1

1Department of Pediatrics, Calgary, Canada
2University of Calgary, Calgary, Canada
3Pediatrics, University of Alberta, Edmonton, Alberta, Canada

Copyright © 2015 Hindawi Publishing Corporation. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.


BACKGROUND: Newborns with Pierre Robin sequence (PRS) often experience chronic intermittent hypoxemia/hypoventilation associated with airway obstruction. The heterogeneity of the severity of upper airway obstruction makes management a challenge; the optimal intervention in individual cases is not clear.

OBJECTIVE: To investigate the prevalence of surgical/nonsurgical interventions for PRS at two children’s hospitals. Patient characteristics and outcomes were examined.

METHODS: The present retrospective chart review identified 139 patients with PRS born between 2000 and 2010. Demographic information, mode of airway management, associated anomalies and syndromes, polysomnography results, length of intensive care unit and hospital stay, complications and deaths were extracted.

RESULTS: Interventions included prone positioning (alone [61%]), tongue-lip adhesion (45%), nasopharyngeal intubation (28%), continuous positive airway pressure (20%), tracheostomy (19%) and mandibular distraction osteogenesis (5%). Tracheostomies were more prevalent in syndromic patients (P=0.03). Patients who underwent tracheostomy had a lower birth weight (P=0.03) compared with newborns with other interventions. Patients who underwent surgical interventions had longer intensive care unit stays (P<0.001). No intervention was associated with a statistically significant likelihood of requiring a subsequent intervention. Thirty percent of patients underwent polysomnography, with a higher proportion of these using continuous positive airway pressure (n=15) (P<0.01).

CONCLUSIONS: In the present descriptive study, patients with syndromic PRS or low birth weight underwent early intervention, which included a tracheostomy. Objective measures of airway obstruction were underutilized. Decision making regarding evaluation and management of upper airway obstruction in this population remains clinician and resource dependent. Reporting data obtained from a large cohort of PRS patients is important to compare experiences and motivate future studies investigating this complex condition.