What Is Esophageal Atresia?

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Q:
What Is Esophageal Atresia?

A:
Esophageal atresia (EA) is a rare birth defect in which an infant is born without part of the esophagus. Esophagus is the tube that normally carries food from the mouth to the stomach.

The esophagus of the infant with EA grows in two separate segments that do not connect, instead of forming a tube between the mouth and the stomach.

Most infants with EA have another defect called tracheoesophageal fistula (TEF). This is an abnormal connection between the esophagus and the windpipe (trachea). Here are some pictures to help you to understand.

Normal anatomy Esophageal Atresia Tracheoesophageal Fistula

Without a working esophagus, it’s impossible to receive enough nutrition by mouth. Infants with EA are also more prone to infections like pneumonia and conditions such as acid reflux. Luckily, EA is usually treatable.

 

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