Conditions + Treatments

Tracheomalacia in Children

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Tracheomalacia is collapse of the airway when breathing. This means that when your child exhales, the trachea narrows or collapses so much that it may feel hard to breathe. This may result in a vibrating noise or cough.

Tracheomalacia can result in recurring respiratory illnesses, or make it difficult to recover from a respiratory illness. In the long term, it can lead to progressive lung injury.

Many families—and even doctors—do not know that there are surgical treatments for tracheomalacia. At Boston Children’s Hospital, our surgeons provide advanced treatments to cure this condition.

What is Tracheomalacia?

Tracheomalacia occurs when the cartilage in the trachea (windpipe) has not developed properly and causes the airway to narrow during exhalation. Tracheomalacia may be congenital (present at birth), or acquired later.

Tracheomalacia has many different forms. Some children will only experience mild forms. For others, this condition can be life threatening and require immediate intervention to allow your child to breathe regularly again.

Tracheomalacia is often undetected or misdiagnosed, often as asthma or simply noisy breathing. You may have been told that this is the “new normal” for your child or that your child will eventually grow out of it. Our doctors will be able to provide more information about your child’s condition and make sure you know everything you need to know.

Questions to Ask Your Doctor About Your Child’s Care

After your child is diagnosed with tracheomalacia, you may feel overwhelmed with information.  Your neonatologist or pediatric surgeon may suggest that your child is treated at the hospital where you delivered. However, given the rarity of this condition and the importance of a successful first treatment (repeated procedures can result in complications), it is important to know all of your options.  You want the best possible care for your child, which means working with surgeons who have significant experience treating this condition.

Here are some questions you may want to ask your doctor:

  • Is my child’s tracheomalacia associated with another condition?
  • How will you manage my child’s symptoms?
  • What’s the best treatment for my child right now?
  • What are the possible short and long-term complications of treatment?
  • How many cases of tracheomalacia have been treated at your hospital in the last year?
  • Do any of your surgeons have experience with anterior or posterior tracheopexy?
  • Do any of your surgeons have experience with tracheal diverticulum resection?
  • What is the long-term outlook for my child?
  • What services are available to help my child and my family to cope?

Make an Appointment

To make an appointment or speak with a member of our team, please call 617-355-3038.

International Patients

For families residing outside of the United States, please call Boston Children's International Health Services at +01-617-355-5209.

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- Sandra L. Fenwick, President and CEO

Boston Children's Hospital 300 Longwood Avenue, Boston, MA 02115 617-355-6000 | 800-355-7944