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Head Neck. 2007 Feb;29(2):155-62.

Juvenile recurrent respiratory papillomatosis: still a mystery disease with difficult management.

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ENT Department, Johns Hopkins Hospital, Baltimore, Maryland, USA.


Juvenile recurrent respiratory papillomatosis (RRP) is the most common benign neoplastic disease of the larynx in children and adolescents and has a significant impact on patients and the health care system with a cost ranging from $60,000 to $470,000 per patient. The aim of this paper is to review the current literature on RRP and summarize the recent advances. RRP is caused by human papillomavirus (HPV; mainly by types 6 and 11). Patients suffer from wart-like growths in the aerodigestive tract. The course of the disease is unpredictable. Although spontaneous remission is possible, pulmonary spread and malignant transformation have been reported. Surgical excision, including new methods like the microdebrider, aims to secure an adequate airway and improve and maintain an acceptable voice. Repeated recurrences are common and thus overenthusiastic attempts to eradicate the disease may cause serious complications. When papillomas recur, old and new adjuvant methods may be tried. In addition, recent advances in immune system research may allow us to improve our treatment modalities and prevention strategies. A new vaccine is under trial to prevent HPV infection in women; the strongest risk factor for juvenile RRP is a maternal history of genital warts (transmitted from mother to child during delivery). Better understanding of the etiology of the disease and the knowledge of all available therapies is crucial for the best management of the affected patients.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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