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Classification and external resources
ICD-9 478.75 (
MeSH D007826 (
From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
"Laryngospasms" redirects here. For the parody group, see The Laryngospasms.
In medicine, laryngospasm is an
uncontrolled/involuntary muscular
contraction (spasm) of the
laryngeal cords. The condition
typically lasts less than 60 seconds,
and causes a partial blocking of
breathing in, while breathing out
remains easier. It may be triggered
when the vocal cords or the area of
the trachea below the cords detects
the entry of water, mucus, blood, or
other substance. It is characterized by stridor and/or retractions. Some people suffer from frequent
laryngospasms, whether awake or asleep. In an ear, nose and throat practice, it is typically seen in
people who have silent reflux disease. It is also a well known, infrequent, but serious perioperative
In some individuals this can occur spontaneously or as a result of reflux or impaired swallowing. GERD
is a common cause of spontaneous laryngospasm. Treating GERD can lessen the frequency of spasms.
The onset of spasms may be caused by a viral infection.
It is also a complication associated with anesthesia. The spasm can happen often without any
provocation, but tends to occur after tracheal extubation. In children, the condition can be particularly
deadly, leading to cardiac arrest within 30–45 seconds, and is a possible cause of death associated with
the induction of general anesthesia in the pediatric population.
Minor laryngospasm will generally resolve spontaneously.
Laryngospasm in the operating room is treated by hyperextending the patient's neck and administering
assisted ventilation with 100% oxygen. In more severe cases it may require the administration of an
intravenous muscle relaxant, such as Succinylcholine, and reintubation.
In ear, nose and throat practices, it is treated by examining the patient in the office and reassuring the
patient that laryngospasm resolves. Sometimes reflux medication is used to reduce the acidity in the
Spontaneous laryngospasm can be treated by staying calm and breathing slowly, instead of gasping for
air. Drinking water to wash away any irritants that may be the cause of the spasm can also help greatly.
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Patients who are prone to laryngospasm during illness can take measures to prevent irritation such as
antacids to avoid acid reflux, and constantly drinking water or tea keep the area clear of irritants.
Additionally, laryngospasms can result from hypocalcemia, causing muscle spasms and/or tetany. Na+
channels remain open even if there is very little increase in the membrane potential. This affects the
small muscles of the vocal cords.
External links
■ -1999634387 ( at GPnotebook
■ emerg/802 ( at eMedicine "Ketamine:
Emergency Applications" – discusses laryngospasm.
■ Information for patients with laryngospasm
( –
■ ( Symptoms, Treatment, Causes, and
Resources for Laryngospasm
■ Links, Information and Resources about Laryngospasm (
Laryngospasm Information Network
Retrieved from ""
Categories: Anesthesia Larynx disorders
■ This page was last modified on 19 March 2014 at 10:51.
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