Skip to content




Eyes, ears, nose and throat


Eye disorders
Ear disorders
Vestibular disorders
Nasal and nasopharyngeal disorders
Oral cavity and oropharyngeal disorders
Laryngeal disorders
Thyroid and parathyroid gland disorders
Eyes, ears, nose and throat pathology review



0 / 5 complete
High Yield Notes
3 pages


5 flashcards

Content Reviewers:

Rishi Desai, MD, MPH

“Laryngo” refers to the larynx and “malacia” refers to a body tissue that is soft, so laryngomalacia is a developmental condition where the larynx doesn’t form correctly and ends up being soft and floppy.

Normally, the epiglottis, a flap of cartilage located just above the vocal cords, makes a firm arc over the airway.

It’s connected to the larynx by cartilaginous structures called aryepiglottic folds.

In children born with laryngomalacia, the aryepiglottic folds are shorter than normal, so they pull the normally arc-shaped epiglottis down into a distinctive omega shape.

Weak laryngeal muscle tone is thought to cause the condition, but the exact mechanism isn’t well understood.

The cartilaginous tissues are also softer than normal, so they flop into the airway.

That means that when the child breathes, that floppy structure gets sucked into the airway, causing stridor which is a high-pitched, whistling sound during breathing.

In some cases the obstruction of the airway can be so bad that it can make breathing difficult.

  1. "Robbins Basic Pathology" Elsevier (2017)
  2. "Harrison's Principles of Internal Medicine, Twentieth Edition (Vol.1 & Vol.2)" McGraw-Hill Education / Medical (2018)
  3. "Pathophysiology of Disease: An Introduction to Clinical Medicine 8E" McGraw-Hill Education / Medical (2018)
  4. "CURRENT Medical Diagnosis and Treatment 2020" McGraw-Hill Education / Medical (2019)
  5. "Familial laryngomalacia: A case report" The Laryngoscope (1976)
  6. "Autosomal dominant congenital laryngomalacia" American Journal of Medical Genetics (1992)