Esophageal Atresia and Tracheoesophageal Fistula | Overview


What is esophageal atresia?

In babies who have esophageal atresia (say "ee-sof-ah-gee-all at-tree-see-ah"), the esophagus doesn't connect to the stomach. It just ends in a pouch, so nothing the baby swallows gets into the stomach.

What is a tracheoesophageal fistula?

A fistula (say “fist-you-lah”) is a connection between 2 of the body’s tubes. A tracheoesophageal (say "tray-key-oh-ee-sof-ah-gee-all”) fistula is when the trachea (the breathing tube that connects the nose and mouth with the lungs) and the esophagus (the swallowing tube) are connected. These tubes aren't normally connected. When they are connected, food or milk can get into your baby’s lungs when he or she swallows. This can cause breathing problems and even pneumonia (say "new-mone-yah").

Are these problems common?

About 1 baby out of 4,000 babies has one or both of these problems. They usually occur together. But sometimes a baby has atresia with no fistula or fistula with no atresia.


Esophageal Atresia and Tracheoesophageal Fistula by DC Clark (American Family Physician February 15, 1999,

Written by editorial staff

Reviewed/Updated: 03/14
Created: 02/99


Esophageal Atresia and Tracheoesophageal Fistula


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Diagnosis & Tests