Tracheal Agenesis: Vertical Division of the Native Esophagus – A Novel Surgical Approach and Review of the Literature

Alexander J. Straughan, Collin F. Mulcahy, Anthony D. Sandler, Nancy M. Bauman, David Steinhorn, Lyuba Gitman

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

5 Scopus citations


Introduction: Tracheal agenesis (TA) is rare and usually fatal. Few survivors with concomitant tracheoesophageal fistulae (TEF) who underwent ligation of the distal esophagus with creation of a spit-fistula and neo-trachea from the proximal esophagus exist. We report a novel surgical technique whereby the esophagus is divided longitudinally to preserve a functional alimentation tract and a parallel neo-trachea. We review the literature of reported cases, including survivors beyond 12 months. Methods: Case report and literature review. Results: A female infant with prenatal polyhydramnios was born at 35 weeks gestation with immediate respiratory distress and absent cry. Oxygenation was maintained with a laryngeal mask airway. Despite a normal appearing larynx, she could not be intubated and emergent neck exploration disclosed no cervical trachea. The patient was placed on extra corporeal membranous oxygenation (ECMO), and later diagnosed with TA, Floyd Type I. Parental desire for reconstruction but refusal of a spit-fistula necessitated a novel procedure. The esophagus was divided longitudinally via a microstapler to preserve the original alimentary tract and create a parallel neo-trachea originating from the TEF and terminating as a cervical stoma. The healing process was complicated but the baby was ultimately discharged to home where she developed normally neurologically until succumbing one night to accidental decannulation at 16 months of age. Conclusion: We describe a novel surgical approach to manage TA. This includes avoiding creation of a spit fistula and preserving the native esophagus. We then survey the literature, reporting the survivorship duration and operative management of 174 reported cases of TA.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)547-562
Number of pages16
JournalAnnals of Otology, Rhinology and Laryngology
Issue number6
StatePublished - Jun 2021


  • Congenital pediatric laryngotracheal anomalies
  • Miscellaneous
  • Tracheal Agenesis
  • Tracheal Aplasia
  • Tracheostomy
  • tracheoesophageal

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Otorhinolaryngology


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