What is a Laryngeal Cleft?

A laryngeal cleft is a rare abnormality of the separation between the larynx, or voice box, and the esophagus and originally thought to occur in less than <1 % of the population, this abnormality is being seen more often in children with swallowing disorders.

When this is identified, if your child has symptoms, they may require a procedure
(Both of these are performed through the mouth, with no outside skin incisions (cuts))


Often these abnormalities can be treated easily with an injection of a non-toxic filler (hydroxylapatite) to simply fill the cleft and stop saliva, food or liquid from entering the voice box and wind-pipe. This procedure commonly takes under 15 minutes but the child does stay in the hospital for at least one night for monitoring after. The filler lasts for up to 3-6 months and often after this time the child has re-learned the proper way to swallow or has grown out of this problem. Not all children respond to this treatment and may require a bigger surgery.


For children with deeper clefts, who have not benefitted from injection or who have benefitted from injection but now the injection has dissolved we can perform a permanent repair. This surgery requires the child to have stitches placed behind their voice-box to permanently close the separation. For this procedure the child will typically stay in the hospital for 1 – 2 days. There is no external/ skin cut made for this surgery.