Histologically benign airway strictures are frequently misdiagnosed as asthma or COPD and may present with severe symptoms including respiratory failure. A clear understanding of pathophysiology and existing classification systems is needed to determine the appropriate treatment options and predict clinical course. Clinically significant airway strictures can involve the upper and central airways extending from the subglottis to the lobar airways. Optimal evaluation includes a proper history and physical examination, neck and chest computed tomography, pulmonary function testing, endoscopy and serology. Available treatments include medical therapy, endoscopic procedures and open surgery which are based on the stricture’s extent, location, etiology, morphology, severity of airway narrowing and patient’s functional status. The acuity of the process, patient’s co-morbidities and operability at the time of evaluation determine the need for open surgical or endoscopic interventions. The optimal management of patients with benign airway strictures requires the availability, expertise and collaboration of otolaryngologists, thoracic surgeons and interventional pulmonologists. Multidisciplinary airway teams can facilitate accurate diagnosis, guide management and avoid unnecessary procedures that could potentially worsen the extent of the disease or clinical course. Implementation of a complex airway program including multidisciplinary clinics and conferences ensures that such collaboration leads to timely, patient-centered and evidence-based interventions. In this article we outline algorithms of care and illustrate therapeutic techniques based on published evidence.
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