Esophageal and Airway Treatment Center | Treatment

The Esophageal and Airway Treatment (EAT) Center at Boston Children's Hospital cares for infants, children and young adults with esophageal disorders. Families travel from around the world for our advanced diagnostic testing and treatments and extensive experience in caring for children with these problems.

Our esophageal and airway team uses the most effective surgical approaches available to help children born with an esophageal and airway disorders to eventually be able to eat and breathe normally. As specialists in innovative, family-centered care, our doctors always treat your child not just as a patient but also as the person most precious to you.

Why Choose Boston Children's for Esophageal Airway Treatments?

If your child is having trouble breathing, eating or swallowing, you may have many questions and concerns. Rest assured-while disorders of the esophagus are rare, they are not rare to our doctors. Our esophageal disorders team:

  • Treats all types of esophageal conditions-even severe cases other doctors say cannot be fixed. In fact, Boston Children's is the only pediatric hospital in the nation that routinely offers the Foker process, a lifelong solution to long-gap esophageal atresia.
  • Offers extraordinary care and the knowledge that can only come with time and experience
  • Provides long-term follow-up care for patients who need ongoing monitoring

Surgical repair of esophageal disorders are rare and complex procedures and should be performed by a surgeon specializing in this area. We strongly urge you to contact us for preliminary screening.

World-Leading Esophageal and Airway Treatments at Boston Children's Hospital

Our esophageal airway team treats all conditions of the esophagus and airway with the most innovative and successful treatments available. These include:

  • Aortopexy: A safe and reliable procedure that provides immediate and permanent relief of severe tracheomalacia. This surgery opens up the trachea by moving up the aorta (the body's main blood vessel) and attaching it to the back of the breastbone (sternum).
  • Esophageal stents: An esophageal stent is a narrow tube that is inserted temporarily to hold the trachea open and to encourage tissue to grow around it. A stent is sometimes used to treat severe strictures (narrowing or tightening of the esophagus from scar tissue). While our doctors are very selective in their use of stents, there is a time and place for this treatment. Managing stents requires a great deal of skill. Our doctors have the most experience with esophageal stents in the country.
  • Esophagoplasty: Various techniques to correct anatomic problems with esophagus.
  • The Foker process: A technique to stimulate the upper and lower ends of the esophagus to make them grow, allowing them to then be joined together. Boston Children's is the only pediatric hospital that offers the Foker process to treat EA and TEF. This technique is named for John Foker, MD, PhD—the pediatric surgeon who invented it and who continues to consult with our surgeons at Boston Children's. Learn more about the Foker process.
  • Incisional therapy: An innovative treatment for strictures (a narrowing of the esophagus caused by scar tissue) during which a surgeon uses a highly advanced cautery knife to remove the scar tissue.
  • Jejunal interposition: Surgeons use a section of the jejunum (the middle part of the small intestine) as a replacement for the missing section of esophagus. Our doctors have perfected this procedure, which generally results in shorter stays and less complications than alternatives such as colonic pull-ups. Read more about jejunal interposition.
  • Slide tracheoplasty: Surgery to make your child's airway larger. This surgery can be done through an incision on the neck and is used to treat complete tracheal rings.
  • Tracheopexy: This procedure opens up and supports the airway by suspending the back of the tracheal wall from the back of the sternum.
  • Tracheoplasties: Surgery to repair the trachea and remove problem areas such a diverticulitis and pouches

Treating Related Conditions with a Team Approach

Esophageal disorders often co-occur with other conditions. Our esophageal airway team works closely with other departments and programs within Boston Children's-and with your local providers and specialists-to meet all the needs of your child.

Gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD) is an example of a common, related condition. It is a digestive disorder that returns acidic or non-acid stomach juices, food or fluids back up into the esophagus. If your child has symptoms of GERD, managing this reflex is very important. Experts from our Aerodigestive Program will help to diagnose and treat the condition.

We will work to make these appointments as convenient as possible for you and your child.

EA/TEF Outpatient Clinic and Follow-up Care

Frequently, patients who have had their EA/TEF treated at another facility will come to Boston Children's Hospital for follow-up care. The EAT Program's advanced outpatient clinic is fully equipped to treat patients with complications from common EA treatments. The clinic offers follow-up care designed for life-long evaluation of patients with any/all esophageal problems.

Services at the EAT Program's outpatient clinic include access to:

  • Surgeons
  • Gastroenterologists
  • Pulmonologist
  • Nutritionists
  • Feeding specialist
  • Nurse practitioners
  • Social workers

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.