A fractured larynx is usually due to a direct injury that leads to damage in the voice box. This injury is considered rare but can be dangerous.
What are the indications?
If an individual is suspected with a fractured larynx, the symptoms include the following:
- Throat pain especially while swallowing
- Hoarseness of voice or loss of voice
- Shortness of breath
- Coughing up of frothy blood
- Swelling at the front part of the throat where the cartilage is damaged
The larynx or voice box is positioned at the anterior of the neck, at the upper part of the trachea. In most cases, an individual ends up with a fractured larynx from any form of impact on the front of the neck.
This is common in vehicular accidents or during tackles in which the arm is raised to the level of the throat as an opponent runs past.
The injury can be categorized into 4 groups such as:
- Group 1 – minor injuries with mild respiratory symptoms
- Group 2 – moderate injuries with a minimal degree of airway and mucosal disruption
- Group 3 and 4 – serious injury with significantly compromised airways, extensive swelling, cartilage exposure, vocal cord immobility and mucosal tears. The difference between group 3 and 4 is the treatment. For group 4 injuries, it requires the placement of a stent.
If a fractured larynx is likely, it is vital to seek medical care as soon as possible. In case the individual has difficulty breathing, call for emergency assistance right away.
An X-ray is requested to rule out cervical spine fractures. In some cases, a CT scan is utilized to confirm a finding of a fractured larynx.
- For group 1 injuries – the treatment includes monitoring, bed rest with the head raised and humidified air. The individual should rest his/her voice and not given anything by mouth for a short period.
- For group 2 injuries – tracheostomy is done to enable breathing if the airways are involved and direct laryngoscopy is performed
- Group 3 injuries includes the above measures along with surgical repair.
- Group 4 injuries are treated the same as group 3 injuries but with the addition of stent placement.
More Information / Disclaimer
The information posted on this page on a fractured larynx is for learning purposes only. Learn to recognize and manage fractures by taking a standard first aid course with one of our training providers.