Children's tracheal disorders and conditions

The Children’s Tracheal Disorders Program team treats all simple and complex tracheal disorders and conditions. Many of these tracheal conditions are rare and they often have a genetic basis, meaning your child might be born with a particular disorder.

Below are the more common tracheal disorders that the team sees at Children’s:

Trachealmalacia/Bronchial malacia

What is tracheomalacia?

Trachealmalacia/bronchial malacia is a weakening of the cartilage that supports the trachea. This lack of cartilage support can cause the trachea to collapse when your child exhales. There are several types and causes of this disorder. In children, trachealmalacia/bronchial malacia usually has a genetic origin. Most of the kids our team sees with this condition were born that way and some may require surgery to correct the issue.

Trachealmalacia/Bronchial malacia care at Children’s

Depending on the type of trachealmalacia/bronchial malacia your child has, surgery might be required. Children’s specializes in the type of surgery best suited to repair this condition. In most cases, an airway reconstruction surgery might be required.

Read more about surgeries to correct tracheal/bronchial malasia

Trachealmalacia/Bronchial stenosis

What is tracheal/bronchial stenosis?

Tracheal/bronchial stenosis is a narrowing of your child’s windpipe. The narrowing can cause a few noticeable symptoms including noisy breathing, also called stridor, and recurring pneumonia. In children, this rare tracheal condition is usually caused by a congenital issue and can be discovered very early in life.

Read more about stridor as well as recurring pneumonia

Tracheal/Bronchial stenosis care at Children’s

After tracheal/bronchial stenosis is diagnosed, usually after a round of sophisticated imaging, the Children’s team will determine the best course of treatment. In rare cases, surgery might be required. Children’s specializes in open airway reconstruction, a surgery required to correct the disorder.

Vascular ring

What is a vascular ring anomaly?

This rare, congenital condition occurs when the aorta grows around the trachea and esophagus. The condition usually presents itself very early in life. In children, the condition can cause breathing and feeding problems because the aorta can exert pressure on the trachea and esophagus.

Vascular ring anomaly care at Children's

Treatment for vascular ring anaomly is a specialty of the tracheal disorders team at Children’s. In some cases, surgical revision might be performed. During treatment your child will have full access to the team of physicians and support personnel from various hospital disciplines including ear, nose and throat and general surgery.

Pulmonary artery slings

What is a pulmonary artery sling?

A pulmonary artery sling is a very rare tracheal condition that occurs when the left pulmonary artery does not follow its usual path in the body. Symptoms of this condition might include shortness of breath, and fainting spells. A pulmonary artery sling almost always requires surgery.

Pulmonary artery slings care at Children’s

The Children’s tracheal disorders team has one of the nation’s most advanced treatment programs for pulmonary artery slings. Treatment of this condition almost always includes revision surgery. This surgery has been performed successfully at Children’s for years and some techniques involved in revision were developed here.

Complete tracheal rings

What is a complete tracheal ring?

A normal trachea is composed of a number of c-shaped cartilage rings. When these c-shaped rings close in completely to form a circle of cartilage, complete tracheal rings are formed. Tracheal rings can cause the narrowing of the opening of your child’s windpipe and lead to breathing problems. Because the condition is congenital, it is usually recognized very shortly after birth.

Complete tracheal rings care at Children’s

Treatment for complete tracheal rings is another chief specialty of the Children’s Tracheal Disorders Program. If surgery is required, an open airway reconstruction might be performed. After surgery, your child will have the benefit of comprehensive after-care by our dedicated team of nurses who specialize in caring for tracheal disorder patients.

Tracheoesophageal fistula

What is a tracheoesophageal fistula?

A fistula in the body occurs when two organs fuse together abnormally. In the case of a tracheal/esophageal fistula, the trachea and esophagus are fused. This is a congenital condition and is usually discovered before birth or very shortly after birth. This tracheal condition can cause breathing and feeding problems and usually must be corrected surgically.

Tracheoesophageal fistula care at Children’s

Most children with a tracheal/esophageal fistula are tiny babies. The team at Children’s specializes in caring for the tiniest infants and has expertise in the surgical revision of fistulas, if necessary. Our goal is to intervene in the case of a fistula as early as possible so that your child can have the healthiest life start possible.

Tracheal tumors

About tracheal tumors

Breathing problems in children can take many forms and have many causes. In rare instances, you child might have a tumor of the trachea. Tracheal tumors can be benign or malignant. In either case, they can be problematic and must be addressed medically.

Tracheal tumor care at Children’s

Depending on the location and severity of the tracheal tumor or tumors, the Children’s team might prescribe surgery. The Children’s tracheal disorders team has vast expertise in operating on the trachea and has demonstrated many successful surgical outcomes. Oncological support at Children’s is also available in the case of cancerous tracheal tumors.

Read about tracheal treatment and care at Children’s

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To make an appointment, call the Airway and Digestive Center clinician.

(414) 266-6487

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Born without a trachea, baby's life saved by Children's Wisconsin

Born without a trachea, baby’s life saved by Children’s Wisconsin

Never before in the United States has a baby survived when born without a trachea. That changed earlier this year when a team of surgeons performed an innovative series of procedures they had never done before — saving the life of Thomas Richards.

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