Tracheo-oesophageal fistula (TOF)


A rare birth defect affecting the windpipe and oesophagus. If your baby experiences a tracheo-oesophageal fistula, our HCA UK gastroenterologists are able to diagnose and treat them

Enquiries & Appointments

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About tracheo-oesophageal fistula

A tracheo-oesophageal fistula is a rare birth defect. An abnormal connection occurs between your baby's trachea (windpipe) and oesophagus (the tube connecting their mouth to their stomach). This makes swallowing hard, and stomach acid can pass into their lungs. It is normally treated after birth with surgery, which our HCA UK surgeons can carry out.

Need to know

Tracheo-oesophageal fistulas are often identified before birth. Ultrasound scans can detect excess amniotic fluid in the womb (the clear, yellowish fluid that surrounds your unborn baby). This is a symptom of the condition. After your baby is born, they may show some of the following symptoms:

  • breathing and/ swallowing problems
  • vomiting
  • coughing or choking whilst feeding
  • blue discolouration of the skin
  • round and full abdomen

Your consultant will closely monitor your baby's development during pregnancy. Ultrasound scans can help to diagnose tracheo-oesophageal fistulas. After your baby is born, we can offer other tests for diagnosis. For example:

  • Your midwife may try to pass a tube through your baby's nose, to see if it reaches their stomach. If this is not possible they might have TOF.
  • Taking an X-ray to check your baby's stomach in more detail.
If your baby is diagnosed with tracheo-oesophageal fistulas, they will require surgery to repair the defect. The procedure is normally carried out soon after birth, under general anaesthetic. Repair is achieved by your baby's surgeon closing off the fistula, and then sewing the lower and upper parts of their oesophagus. Rest assured, your baby's consultant will discuss this procedure with you in detail beforehand, helping to put your mind at ease.

Our Tracheo-oesophageal fistula (TOF) locations

The Harley Street Clinic

The Harley Street Clinic

35 Weymouth Street W1G 8BJ London
The Princess Grace Hospital

The Princess Grace Hospital

42-52 Nottingham Place W1U 5NY London
The Lister Hospital

The Lister Hospital

Chelsea Bridge Road, SW1W 8RH London
The Shard Outpatients

The Shard Outpatients

The Shard, 32 St Thomas Street SE1 9BS London
London Bridge Hospital

London Bridge Hospital

27 Tooley Street SE1 2PR London

Patient stories

This content is intended for general information only and does not replace the need for personal advice from a qualified health professional.