The Postcricoid Cushion: An Unusual and Surgically Treatable Cause of Infant Aspiration

Document Type

Journal Article

Publication Date



Annals of Otology, Rhinology and Laryngology




aerodigestive; pediatric aspiration; pediatric dysphagia; postcricoid cushion; postcricoid hemangioma; postcricoid vascular malformation


© The Author(s) 2020. Objectives: To highlight the importance of recognizing the postcricoid cushion as a surgically treatable cause of newborn aspiration in select cases unresponsive to conservative measures. Methods: A retrospective review was performed on a single case of neonatal aspiration at a tertiary care pediatric hospital. Results: Resolution of aspiration was achieved in an otherwise healthy six-week old term infant following ablation of a postcricoid cushion using microlaryngeal instrumentation and coblation. Prior airway and swallowing evaluations, along with a trial of reflux therapy and pacing of feeds, preceded the surgical excision, successfully avoiding gastrostomy tube placement. Conclusions: Otolaryngology consults for neonatal dysphagia and aspiration are challenging. The postcricoid cushion is considered an anatomic variant that can engorge with crying. When large, it can prevent feeds from entering the esophagus and lead to pooling and aspiration. The postcricoid cushion is evident on flexible fiberoptic laryngoscopy, but without a vigilant eye may be easily overlooked. This single case report suggests that surgical ablation may be effective management in select cases after ruling out concomitant aerodigestive pathology and neurodevelopmental causes of aspiration and only after conservative therapy has failed. A video demonstrating the surgical ablation is included.

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