Click here to view a larger image. Esophageal atresia is a birth defect of the swallowing tube esophagus that connects the mouth to the stomach. In a baby with esophageal atresia, the esophagus has two separate sections—the upper and lower esophagus—that do not connect. A baby with this birth defect is unable to pass food from the mouth to the stomach, and sometimes difficulty breathing.
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Esophageal atresia EA is a rare birth defect in which a baby is born without part of the esophagus the tube that connects the mouth to the stomach. Instead of forming a tube between the mouth and the stomach, the esophagus grows in two separate segments that do not connect. In some children, so much of the esophagus is missing that the ends can't be easily connected with surgery. This is known as long-gap EA. Without a working esophagus, it's impossible to receive enough nutrition by mouth.
Babies with EA are also more prone to infections like pneumonia and conditions such as acid reflux. Luckily, EA is usually treatable. Type A. The upper and lower segments of the esophagus end in pouches, like dead-end streets that don't connect.
Type B. The lower segment ends in a blind pouch. TEF is present on the upper segment. This type is very rare. Type C. The upper segment ends in a blind pouch. TEF is present on the lower segment. This is the most common type. Type D. TEF is present on both upper and lower segments. The exact cause of EA is still unknown, but it appears to have some genetic components. Up to half of all babies born with EA have one or more other birth defects, such as:. The first signs of esophageal atresia are usually clearly seen very soon after birth.
The most common are:. Although EA can be life-threatening in its most severe forms and could cause long-term nutritional concerns, the majority of children fully recover if it's detected early. The best treatment for EA is usually surgery to reconnect the two ends of the baby's esophagus to each other. After a diagnosis has been made, our team of experts will meet to review and discuss what they have learned about your child's condition. Then we will meet with you and your family to discuss the results and outline the best treatment options.
Until recently, EA was a condition with no truly satisfactory treatment options. Previous treatments involved stressful stretching of the esophagus, drastic repositioning of internal organs such as gastric and colon esophageal interposition.
For a child with long-gap EA, the revolutionary Foker process encourages natural growth and lengthening of a child's existing esophagus with the end result being an intact esophagus. For Patients. Contact the Esophageal and Airway Treatment Center Esophageal Atresia. What is esophageal atresia? What causes esophageal atresia? There are four types of esophageal atresia EA : Type A. What are the signs and symptoms of esophageal atresia?
The most common are: frothy white bubbles in your baby's mouth coughing or choking when feeding blue color of the skin, especially when your baby is feeding difficulty breathing How we care for esophageal atresia Although EA can be life-threatening in its most severe forms and could cause long-term nutritional concerns, the majority of children fully recover if it's detected early.
Our areas of innovation for esophageal atresia Until recently, EA was a condition with no truly satisfactory treatment options. For years, families have come from around the corner and across the world, looking to Boston Children's for answers. This is the place where the most difficult challenges are faced head on, where the impossible becomes possible, and where families in search of answers find them. Sandra L.
Fenwick, CEO. Connect with Boston Children's Hospital. How can we help?
Facts about Esophageal Atresia
Oesophageal atresia OA encompasses a group of congenital anomalies comprising of an interruption of the continuity of the oesophagus with or without a persistent communication with the trachea. OA occurs in 1 in live births. Infants with OA are unable to swallow saliva and are noted to have excessive salivation requiring repeated suctioning. The aetiology is largely unknown and is likely to be multifactorial, however, various clues have been uncovered in animal experiments particularly defects in the expression of the gene Sonic hedgehog Shh.
Esophageal atresia is a digestive disorder in which the esophagus does not develop properly. The esophagus is the tube that normally carries food from the mouth to the stomach. Esophageal atresia EA is a congenital defect. This means it occurs before birth.
Esophageal atresia/tracheoesophageal fistula
During early development, the esophagus and windpipe trachea begin as a single tube that normally divides into the two adjacent passages between four and eight weeks after conception. In esophageal atresia EA , the upper esophagus does not connect atresia to the lower esophagus and stomach. Almost 90 percent of babies born with esophageal atresia also have a tracheoesophageal fistula TEF , in which the esophagus and the trachea are abnormally connected, allowing fluids from the esophagus to get into the airways and interfere with breathing. A small number of infants have only one of these abnormalities.
Esophageal atresia is incomplete formation of the esophagus, frequently associated with tracheoesophageal fistula. Diagnosis is suspected by failure to pass a nasogastric or orogastric tube. Treatment is surgical repair. See also Overview of Congenital Gastrointestinal Anomalies. Esophageal atresia is the most common gastrointestinal GI atresia. The estimated incidence is 1 in live births. Two syndromes in particular are associated with esophageal atresia:.