Tracheoesophageal fistula repair (TEF)

A rare condition, which tends to occur alongside oesophageal atresia. 

If your baby has a tracheo-oesophageal fistula, our HCA UK paediatric neonatal surgeons can repair the defect with surgery

What is a tracheoesophageal fistula?

A tracheo-oesophageal fistula develops while your baby is still in the womb. An abnormal connection occurs between their trachea (windpipe) and oesophagus.

The seriousness of the defect means they normally require surgery to repair this shortly after birth. Our HCA UK paediatric neonatal surgeons are able to diagnose and treat them.

Need to know

  • What happens during surgery? icon plus

    Surgery to repair a tracheo-oesophageal fistula is carried out under general anaesthetic, shortly after birth. The procedure normally lasts between two-to-three hours in theatre.

    Once your baby is asleep, their surgeon will likely follow these steps:

    • make an incision on the right side of your baby's chest, in between their ribs
    • using surgical instruments, repair and sew the abnormal connection (fistula) between the oesophagus and trachea (windpipe)
    • stitch or glue the incision on your baby's chest
  • How to prepare icon plus

    As the procedure is carried out very soon after birth, your baby will be transferred almost immediately to the operating theatre. It is likely that their tracheo-oesophagul fistula would have been identified initially during an ultrasound scan. After birth, an X-ray may be used to assess your baby's stomach in more detail.
  • After surgery icon plus

    Your baby will stay in the intensive care unit and be placed in an incubator.

    During their stay here, they may also need the following during their recovery process:

    • ventilation machine to assist their breathing
    • tubes inserted into your baby's chest to drain any fluids or trapped air
    • oxygen
    • medication such as antibiotics

    You should be able to take your baby home once they are taking food by mouth. This may take up to two weeks. Once they are home, breast or bottle feeding is recommended for the first few months. Your baby's consultant will arrange follow-up appointments with you. They will also advise you on caring for them at home.

Our paediatric neonatal consultants

We're proud to work with leading experts across a range of medical fields, whose skills are matched by their integrity and compassion.

Our locations

From complex paediatric surgery to minor procedures, we provide exceptional paediatric surgical care throughout our network of hospitals, outpatient centres and specialist clinics.

Book an appointment

Our team can help with any enquiries or you can make an appointment with one of our experienced consultants.

Call us today

020 7079 4344
This content is intended for general information only and does not replace the need for personal advice from a qualified health professional.
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