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Anesthesia

Anesthesia and Throat Polyps

12/08/2010

Question:

What can be done in a case where the patient needs polyps biopsied / removed from the throat but has a breathing problem and the Doctors are hesitant to put her to sleep? A biopsy was attempted, but was aborted since she was not completely asleep and the polyps were interferring with the scope making her gag for air. On the exhale, there just wasn`t room for the scope and a clear enough airway. A ventilator has been mentioned, but she is afraid since someone told her she could have a heart attack on the ventilator. The polyps are becoming a problem and need to go. Thank you for your help.

Answer:

This type of surgery can be done safely but does require general anesthesia, specialised airway and breathing equipment - including a ventilator (breathing machine), and a surgical/anesthesia team with experience. The team will be able to figure out how to "share" the airway i.e. create a safe passage for inhalation and exhalation, and enough space for the surgeon to do the work of excising the polyps. Lasers are often used for this kind of surgery. Postoperative care is also very important, to make sure the airway remains open, which should be the case if the surgical procedure has been successful, and to monitor for other kinds of possible complications.

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Response by:

Gareth S Kantor, MD Gareth S Kantor, MD
Assistant Professor of Anesthesiology
School of Medicine
Case Western Reserve University