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Laryngoscope. 1992 Nov;102(11):1251-4.

Infant botulism: considerations for airway management.

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  • 1St. Christopher's Hospital for Children, Philadelphia, Pa.


Infant botulism is a national problem with over 1000 confirmed cases in the United States since it was first recognized as a distinct clinical entity in 1976. The disease is characterized by a progressive, symmetrical descending paralysis of cranial nerves with eventual involvement of axial and trunk muscle innervation. Most infants progress to complete respiratory failure. An initial report in 1979 recommended early tracheotomy for avoidance of long-term intubation complications. However, over the past 10 years at St. Christopher's Hospital for Children, analysis of airway management in 11 patients with infant botulism revealed a median intubation time of 16 days. Following extubation, all patients progressed to complete respiratory recovery without adverse laryngotracheal sequelae. Otolaryngologists consulted for the airway management of infants with botulism should adopt a conservative approach with meticulous monitoring of endotracheal tube sizes and leak pressures. Tracheotomy is rarely required.

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