Congenital anomalies of the esophagus and trachea are birth defects that occur before your baby is born. There are several kinds:
- Esophageal atresia- With esophageal atresia, your child's esophagus does not form properly, resulting in two segments that don't connect to each other. Since the esophagus is in two segments, liquid that a baby swallows cannot pass normally through the esophagus and reach the stomach. Also, ingested liquids may spill over into the bronchial tubes and cause pneumonia or airway obstruction.
- Tracheoesophageal fistula (TEF)- Often occurs with esophageal atresia. It's an abnormal connection in one or more places between your child's esophagus and the trachea. Normally, the esophagus and the trachea are two separate tubes that are not connected, but if a TEF is present, stomach content may regurgitate into the lungs. It is also possible, though rare, that a TEF can be present from the upper end of the esophagus to the trachea in which event, swallowed liquids would pass directly into the lungs.
- Isolated tracheoesophageal fistula- (Very rare) Where there is an abnormal communication between an otherwise intact esophagus and trachea either as a narrow opening or there can also be a rare long communication between esophagus and trachea called a tracheoesophageal cleft.
- Trachea atresia- (Very rare) an absence of part or all of your child's trachea.
- Tracheal stenosis- (Very rare) is a constriction of the trachea.
- Tracheal occlusion- (Very rare) is a blockage in the trachea.
Boston Children's Hospital surgeons can create a nearly normal, functioning esophagus for your child by elongating and then joining together the incomplete segments. It's called the Foker Technique and Children's is the only pediatric hospital in the world that can do it.