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Papilloma Removal from Larynx


Papillomas are wart-like growths on the throat tissue that are caused by a human papilloma virus. Papillomas can become dangerous if they grow large enough to block the air passage to the lungs. They may grow quickly anywhere in the throat or mouth.  Usually, they grow around the vocal cords.

The growths are removed with the help of a microscope or endoscope (a thin rigid tube with a tiny camera) that is put into the mouth and guided into the throat. The camera allows the surgeon to see inside the throat. The surgeon can then use small surgical instruments and/or a laser through the endoscope or the microscope to remove the papilloma growths. These growths often can grow back. Papillomas grow fastest in childhood and may go away before the teenage years.

  • The endoscopic treatments take about an hour and a half and are done under general anesthesia. Your child will get an IV line. "IV" stands for "intravenous," which means inside the vein. Fluids and medicines are often given into the veins through a catheter (a hollow plastic tube).
  • Your surgeon will do an endoscopy as part of the papilloma removal using a telescope to look at your child’s entire airway to judge the extent of the papilloma growth.  Photographs may be taken to document the extent of the growths.
  • There is no approved medical treatment, and surgery alone does not always provide a cure, so some children with papillomas may get other treatments as part of clinical studies. A clinical study is where a medication is tested to see if it will be effective. Ask your surgeon if a clinical study is recommended for your child.

What to expect after treatment:

  • Your child will go to the Post Anesthesia Care Unit (PACU) after the treatment.
  • Most children are fussy afterward and may experience some shortness of breath, hoarseness, coughing, and difficulty breathing immediately after the procedure.  Parents will be invited to the PACU shortly after the treatment.
  • A cool mist with oxygen will be provided for your child in order to keep the air passages moist and comfortable. Your child may have a cough afterward that produces some blood-tinged mucous. This is to be expected since no stitches are used during the operation.
  • Your child may receive medicine through an IV catheter to decrease swelling of the area treated or IV medicine for pain or discomfort.  The IV will be removed before your child leaves the hospital. A breathing treatment may be given to your child to open his/her air passages.  This medicine is given in a cool mist form to be inhaled.
  • Your child will stay in the PACU for about an hour.  Some children are able to go home the same day of the treatment, while others are observed overnight in the hospital.
  • Some children are able to return to school the following day. You should make plans that will allow your child to stay at home an additional day if needed.  Follow the instructions given to you by your child's doctor.

Call your child’s doctor if:

  • your child has difficulty breathing, persistent coughing, severe hoarseness, blue lips, or chest retractions.
  • your child's temperature is greater than 101.5F rectally or by mouth.  Slight fevers after surgery are normal.  (You should take your child's temperature at least once before bedtime tonight.)
  • your child has vomiting that lasts more than six hours or vomiting is severe.  Your child's nurse will discuss this with you before your child goes home.  Your child can become dehydrated when he/she has prolonged or severe vomiting and is unable to drink enough fluid to keep up with the loss. Call your doctor if your child has signs of dehydration.

Signs of dehydration:

  • Dry mouth
  • Sunken look around eyes
  • No tears when crying
  • Decreased amount of urine, which means fewer wet diapers than usual in an infant/toddler

REMEMBER: Please call if you have any questions.  Your child’s nurse will give you the phone number.


Disclaimer: This information is not intended to substitute or replace the professional medical advice you receive from your child's physician. The content provided on this page is for informational purposes only, and was not designed to diagnose or treat a health problem or disease. Please consult your child's physician with any questions or concerns you may have regarding a medical condition.

Reviewed: 11/2009