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Tracheoesophageal Fistula

California Pediatric Surgical Group

General Surgery & Pediatric Surgery located in Santa Barbara, Santa Maria, Ventura, & Thousand Oaks, CA

If your child has birth defects in their esophagus or trachea, they may need a surgical repair. With the help of the compassionate physicians at California Pediatric Surgical Group in Santa Maria, Thousand Oaks, Santa Barbara, and two Ventura, California, offices, you can feel confident that your child will receive the tracheoesophageal fistula or esophageal atresia treatment they need. Click the online scheduler to book your child’s exam or call the location nearest you to speak with a team member today.

Tracheoesophageal Fistula Q&A

What is tracheoesophageal fistula?

Tracheoesophageal fistula (TEF) is a condition that means there’s an abnormal connection (fistula) between your child’s upper esophagus and trachea (windpipe). When your baby has tracheoesophageal fistula, any liquid they swallow passes through the connection between their trachea and esophagus. This is dangerous because fluid can get into their lungs. 

A related condition known as esophageal atresia (EA) means that the upper part of your child’s esophagus doesn’t connect with their lower esophagus and stomach. With esophageal atresia, your baby’s esophagus doesn’t properly form during pregnancy. In this case, instead of one long tube, your baby’s esophagus forms as two parts: one part connects to their stomach and the other to their throat. But the two tubes don’t connect to one another.

Both TEF and EA are rare, affecting roughly one in every 4,000 babies in the United States. But because tracheoesophageal fistula and esophageal atresia lead to complications, early intervention right after birth is essential. 

Are there symptoms of tracheoesophageal fistula?

Yes, and both TEF and EA symptoms are apparent right after birth. If your child has tracheoesophageal fistula or esophageal atresia, they may:

  • Have excess saliva in their mouth
  • Cough during feedings
  • Choke regularly


In some cases, your physician may diagnose TEF and EA while your baby is in utero. These conditions cause too much amniotic fluid to build up, which is often detectable on an ultrasound. 

How is tracheoesophageal fistula treated?

Surgery is always necessary to treat tracheoesophageal fistula and esophageal atresia, and the highly skilled team of pediatric surgeons at California Pediatric Surgical Group can help you. The focus of TEF or EA surgery is to:

  • Cut fistulas between the esophagus and trachea
  • Close any hole in the trachea
  • Properly connect the upper and lower portions of the esophagus


By making these repairs, as well as any other necessary corrections, food and liquids can pass through your baby’s mouth, down their esophagus, and into their stomach as it should. With the help of the expert surgeons at California Pediatric Surgical Group, your baby can go on to live a full, healthy, normal life after their TEF or EA surgery.

California Pediatric Surgical Group provides advanced tracheoesophageal fistula and esophageal atresia care. Book your child’s exam online or by phone with any office today.

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