Learning about Tracheoesophageal Fistula

Tracheoesophageal Fistula 101

Do you want to know about tracheoesophageal fistulas and what methods are used for its diagnosis and treatment? Are you curious about its causes?

Find out everything you want to know when you read through this article that aims to discuss the nature and background of this rare yet complicated abnormality.

Tracheoesophageal fistula is an abnormality that is found in newborn children. It is a very serious complication, because a child will have trouble eating and breathing with this condition.

Tracheoesophageal fistula is caused by factors that are beyond our control. It occurs during the child’s development inside the embryo. Doctors only find out about it when the mother gives birth to the baby, but in some cases tracheoesophageal fistula is diagnosed when a child has grown up.

Characteristics of Tracheoesophageal Fistula

This birth defect is characterized as the trachea and the esophagus are one, instead of branching out to ensure normal breathing and eating. Because they are intertwined, breathing heads off sometimes to the digestive system instead of the respiratory system causing distention in the gastrointestinal system. Mucus also finds its way to the respiratory system causing breathing problems like aspiration pneumonia.

Kinds of Tracheoesophageal Fistula

There are five kinds of tracheoesophageal fistula that can be diagnosed from newborn children. These types are:

  • Type C, characterized by an esophagus that continues with the mouth, called as a proximal esophageal atresia. This esophagus terminates in a blind loop superior to the sternal angle. Type C FET also has a distal esophagus that begins from the lower trachea. Type C is the most common FET.
  • Type A FET, described as an esophagus that is normal except for the middle segment being missing.
  • Type D FET, which has a proximal esophagus terminating on the lower trachea, while the distal windpipe rises from it
  • Type H FET is similar to the Type D FET. However, it is characterized by the two esophagus segments resembling the letter H.
  • Type B FET has a proximal esophageal ending on the lower trachea. It also has a distal esophageal bud.

How FET is Diagnosed

Diagnosis and examination for the presence of FET through the following procedures: endoscopy, X-ray, and by nasogastric suction tube insertion. The insertion of the tube reveals the presence of the fistula if the operation becomes a failure. X-ray, on the other hand, shows the presence of air in the bowel area which is a symptom of FET. Once FET is confirmed, doctors then use a radiopaque catheter to determine the type and size of the fistula.

Treatment of FET

FET is usually treated by surgery right after the newborn’s condition is stabilized and aspiration pneumonia is avoided. The surgery is performed to reconnect the segments of the windpipe and at the same time separate it from the trachea.

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