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Esophageal atresia

  • Definition

    Esophageal atresia is a disorder of the digestive system in which the esophagus does not develop properly. The esophagus is the tube that normally carries food from the mouth to the stomach.


    Alternative Names

    Tracheoesophageal fistula


    Causes, incidence, and risk factors

    Esophageal atresia is a congenital defect, which means it occurs before birth. There are several types. In most cases, the upper esophagus ends and does not connect with the lower esophagus and stomach. The top end of the lower esophagus connects to the windpipe. This connection is called a tracheoesophageal fistula (TEF). Some babies with TEF will also have other problems, such as heart or other digestive tract disorders.

    Other types of esophageal atresia involve narrowing of the esophagus, and may also be associated with other birth defects.

    Esophageal atresia occurs in about 1 out of 4,000 births.