Tracheal Diverticulum

What is a tracheal diverticulum?

A tracheal diverticulum is a pouch in the trachea (windpipe). It is often a small piece of esophageal tissue that remains on the trachea after a child undergoes surgical repair of esophageal atresia with tracheoesophageal fistula (EA/TEF). Rarely, a child may be born with a congenital tracheal diverticulum. Left untreated, a tracheal diverticulum can trap secretions, increase the chances of lung infections, lead to recurrent TEF and may lead to a collapse of the trachea.

What are the symptoms of a tracheal diverticulum?

A tracheal diverticulum doesn't usually have symptoms. However, respiratory secretions can build up in the pouch and become infected, resulting in chronic upper respiratory infections and a chronic cough. When the pouch becomes filled with these secretions, it may also press on surrounding tissue and cause the airway to collapse.

What causes a tracheal diverticulum?

Tracheal diverticula can be congenital. They can also develop following surgery to correct EA/TEF.

How is a tracheal diverticulum diagnosed?

Clinicians typically diagnose tracheal diverticula using a procedure known as a bronchoscopy. This test allows them to examine your child's trachea with a tool called a bronchoscope.

How is a tracheal diverticulum treated?

If the tracheal diverticulum is causing symptoms of recurrent respiratory infections or is associated with recurrent TEF or with tracheomalacia, clinicians will surgically remove it using techniques aimed at preventing recurrence.

How we care for tracheal diverticula

At Boston Children's Esophageal and Airway Treatment Center, our surgeons have developed techniques to completely resect (remove) tracheal diverticula to help improve the health of your child's airway. We provide close monitoring of clinical symptoms and respiratory infections. If indicated, we perform repeat bronchoscopies.