Recurrent respiratory papillomatosis (RRP) is a benign disease of the voicebox caused by the human papilloma virus (HPV). The papilloma appear as small pink grapelike clusters that affect the tissues of the voicebox or the trachea (windpipe).
The main concern of papilloma in children is its obstructive effect on the airway whereas adults often appreciate a change in vocal quality. The diagnosis is made by a taking a complete history and carefully examining the vocal cords either by flexible laryngoscopy (a flexible camera placed through the nose) or a videostroboscopy (a flexible or rigid exam of the vocal cords which allows for examination of the vocal fold mucosal wave).
Surgery is the primary treatment and can be carried out using various tools that include simple excision, shaver, or laser. In our experience, the KTP laser provides the best outcome by maximally preserving the normal tissue while destroying the blood supply to the papillomatous lesions.
There is no cure at this time for papilloma. Patients are therefore followed closely for return of the disease and treated, as necessary, to minimize the effects of the papilloma on the patient’s airway and vocal quality.