Current Environment:

The Aerodigestive Center at Boston Children's Hospital sees children who have trouble swallowing or breathing or who have related gastrointestinal issues in addition to respiratory symptoms. Established in 2006, the center is one of the oldest in the country and the model upon which about half of similar centers are now based. With the highest volume of pediatric patients in the U.S., we have the extensive experience necessary to care for kids with both common and rare disorders involving the respiratory and digestive system. These include functional and structural disorders of the upper gastrointestinal tract disease and lungs due to congenital or developmental abnormality or injury, swallowing dyscoordination, feeding problems, genetic diseases, and neurodevelopmental disability.

Our approach

At the Aerodigestive Center, we take a team approach that includes specialists from a range of different fields, including gastroenterology, pulmonology, feeding therapy, and otolaryngology. Using state-of-the-art techniques, we evaluate your child and then work together to create a comprehensive evaluation and treatment plan customized to their unique needs. We believe that medical management should almost always be the first approach to most aerodigestive concerns, with surgery recommended as a last resort. When surgery is necessary, we are often able to perform multiple procedures during one session, increasing efficiency and decreasing your child's exposure to anesthesia. We also offer inpatient rounding for children who are recovering in the hospital — a service not routinely offered by most aerodigestive centers.

Our areas of innovation

The clinicians in the Aerodigestive Center are leaders in pediatric aerodigestive research and innovation. For example, we have pioneered the use of motility testing in children with respiratory symptoms, including post-transplant patients, and promoted oral feeding, resulting in improved outcomes. The center has also spearheaded the use of blenderized food for children with feeding tubes. We are the only aerodigestive center to be funded by the National Institutes of Health.

Suzanna Hirsch

Congratulations to Suzanna Hirsch, MD, who received K23 funding from the NIH/NIDDK for her new research study on pediatric feeding disorders. This career development grant, mentored by Rachel Rosen, MD, MPH, will allow for one of the first studies of its kind characterizing the GI pathophysiology underlying chronic vomiting and feeding tolerance in patients with feeding tubes. Results from this study will generate a deeper understanding of these challenging problems and help target innovated, physiology-based treatments.