After fighting a serious respiratory infection for more than a month, Ryland, 1, was rushed to Children’s Hospital of Richmond at VCU (CHoR) when doctors realized that his upper trachea had narrowed to just one millimeter wide. Within an hour of arriving at CHoR, the five-month-old was in the operating room with a pediatric otolaryngologist – head and neck surgeon.
During surgery, which was all done through the mouth, the team found scar tissue in the upper trachea. This was cut with a special knife, and a balloon was inserted into Ryland’s airway to expand the opening. Several weeks previously, Ryland had been intubated at a community hospital to help his breathing, which had caused the scar tissue in his throat. If they had not been able to dilate the scar tissue and open his airway, he would have required a tracheotomy and breathing tube.
“We were discharged within 24 hours of surgery,” Ryland’s mother, Ashley, remembers. “I was amazed. The overall care of everyone at the hospital was amazing. They checked on him constantly and really went above and beyond.”
Since discharge, Ryland has had the same surgery one additional time to dilate more scar tissue that was causing the trachea to narrow once again. The pediatric otolaryngology team does not expect the surgery to be necessary again.
“Ryland is a real people person,” Ashley adds. “He’s a very social baby—nothing but smiles and claps. It was amazing to see him come out of surgery and anesthesia. It didn’t even seem to bother him very much.”