An Unknown Foreign laryngeal Object: an exotic complication of skull base osteoradionecrosis

Stefan Grasl, Christian Wassipaul, Gregor Fischer, Christoph Arnoldner, Stefan Janik*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Journal article (peer-reviewed)Case report


BACKGROUND: Osteoradionecrosis (ORN) of the skull base is a rare complication after head and neck radiation with a broad variety of subsequent complications.

METHODS: A 68-year-old woman with a complex oncological history (right-sided sphenoid meningioma; left-sided neck metastasis of a Cancer of Unknown Primary-CUP) was admitted with a right-sided epi-/ oropharyngeal mass and severe pain exacerbations for further evaluation. CT scan revealed an advanced ORN of the skull base with subsequent abruption of the ventral part of the clivus. This dislocated part of the clivus wedged in the oropharynx for 48 h and then moved towards the larynx, resulting in dyspnea and almost complete airway obstruction.

RESULTS: Due to the dangerous airway situation, an urgent exploration and removal of the dislocated clivus was necessary. After a potential cervical spine instability was ruled out, the patient's airway was initially secured with an awake tracheotomy and the clivus was removed transorally. The tracheostomy tube was removed during the ongoing inpatient stay, and the patient was discharged with significant pain relief.

CONCLUSIONS: The present case illustrates an orphan complication of skull base ORN resulting in a major airway emergency situation.

Original languageEnglish
JournalEuropean Archives of Oto-Rhino-Laryngology
Early online date21 Feb 2024
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 21 Feb 2024


  • Airway emergency
  • Complication
  • Osteoradionecrosis
  • Radioosteonecrosis
  • Skull base

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Otorhinolaryngology


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