UCL Ear Institute


Prof Martin Birchall Paper on appearance and Management of Covid-19 laryngotracheitis

7 May 2020

Prof. Martin Birchalls paper published in F1000 research observes two patients to help understand the management of the trachea for those with the coronavirus disease.

Prof Martin Birchall profile image

A statement from Prof. Birchall on his recent work:

'The Covid pandemic has delivered completely new presentations and mixtures of conditions. All specialities are learning on the hoof and ENT is no different. There were reports from China that some patients who had been intubated developed severe swelling in the larynx and trachea that made them difficult to extubate.

My first Covid case was one of those: a patient at the Royal Free for whom the intensivists were literally unable to pull her tube out: it was "stuck". I was called with some trepidation to examine her under anaesthetic and on doing so found a remarkable degree of swelling, ulceration and inflammation. When my second case had similar findings, it seemed worth putting this apparently new presentation/condition in the public domain.

This is not science, just emipirical observation, and the reasons for this late swelling in the upper airway remain elusive. However, we hope that our findings will stimulate thought on how the covornavirus interacts with the upper airway, and how we may then best treat these complications."