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Laryngorhinootologie. 1998 Mar;77(3):157-64.

[Clinical and molecular biology studies of respiratory papillomatosis].

[Article in German]

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Klinik für Hals-, Nasen- und Ohrenheilkunde, Kopf- und Halschirurgie, Christian-Albrechts-Universität Kiel.



Recurrent laryngeal papillomatosis is a benign neoplastic disease which is probably caused by but at least associated with the human papillomavirus. It can be of significant importance for the affected patients because of its recurrent clinical course. A great variety of therapeutic measures has been described including the surgical removal either with conventional instruments or using the laser. Development of malignancies from papillomas have been reported.


The clinical courses of all 95 patients who have been treated for laryngeal papillomatosis since 1960 were analysed retrospectively. The two most common forms of treatment, surgical removal either conventionally or with the use of the laser, were compared. "Hot start" polymerase chain reaction and Southern blot hybridization were used to detect HPV DNA. The case reports of all patients developing cancer of the larynx are included.


Laryngeal papillomatosis is a disease of all ages, more often first diagnosed in the first and fourth decade. Puberty had no effect on the clinical course. The different forms of treatment did not affect the rate of recurrence. However, the rate of complications such as tracheostomy and glottic webs was significantly reduced after laser surgery. Since the introduction of this new form of therapy no more tracheostomies had to be performed on these patients. HPV DNA was found in four of five samples (HPV 6:3, HPV 11:1). Squamous cell carcinoma subsequently developed in four cases, three of which occurred almost simultaneously and were therefore not included.


The term juvenile laryngeal papillomatosis should be replaced by recurrent respiratory papillomatosis. One could then distinguish according to the age of onset, i.e., in children below the age of 16 years and in adolescents and adults older than 15 years. The occurrence of squamous cell carcinomas in patients previously treated for papillomas underlines the need for repeated histological studies. The surgical treatment remains the mainstay in the management of laryngeal papillomatosis. The laser surgical technique is superior to conventional removal. Using the at present most sensitive and specific methods HPV DNA can be detected in a large percentage of laryngeal papillomas.

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