Postacute COVID-19 Laryngeal Injury and Dysfunction

Andrew J. Neevel, Joshua D. Smith, Robert J. Morrison, Norman D. Hogikyan, Robbi A. Kupfer, Andrew P. Stein*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

7 Scopus citations


Objective: Patients with COVID-19 are at risk for laryngeal injury and dysfunction secondary to respiratory failure, prolonged intubation, and other unique facets of this illness. Our goal is to report clinical features and treatment for patients presenting with voice, airway, and/or swallowing concerns postacute COVID-19. Study Design: Case series. Setting: Academic tertiary care center. Methods: Patients presenting with laryngeal issues following recovery from COVID-19 were included after evaluation by our laryngology team. Data were collected via retrospective chart review from March 1, 2020, to April 1, 2021. This included details of the patient’s COVID-19 course, initial presentation to laryngology, and subsequent treatment. Results: Twenty-four patients met inclusion criteria. Twenty (83%) patients were hospitalized, and 18 required endotracheal intubation for a median (range) duration of 14 days (6-31). Ten patients underwent tracheostomy. Patients were evaluated at a median 107 days (32-215) after their positive SARS-CoV-2 test result. The most common presenting concerns were dysphonia (n = 19, 79%), dyspnea (n = 17, 71%), and dysphagia (n = 6, 25%). Vocal fold motion impairment (50%), early glottic injury (39%), subglottic/tracheal stenosis (22%), and posterior glottic stenosis (17%) were identified in patients who required endotracheal intubation. Patients who did not need intubation were most frequently treated for muscle tension dysphonia (67%). Conclusion: Patients may develop significant voice, airway, and/or swallowing issues postacute COVID-19. These complications are not limited to patients requiring intubation or tracheostomy. Multidisciplinary laryngology clinics will continue to play an integral role in diagnosing and treating patients with COVID-19–related laryngeal sequelae.

Original languageEnglish (US)
JournalOTO Open
Issue number3
StatePublished - 2021


  • COVID-19
  • delayed tracheostomy
  • laryngeal injury
  • laryngotracheal stenosis
  • muscle tension dysphonia
  • postacute COVID-19 syndrome
  • prolonged intubation

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Otorhinolaryngology
  • Surgery


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