The surgeon will make a cut, or incision, in your child’s chest, usually on the right side. Then the surgeon will find and cut through the abnormal channel (fistula) between the windpipe and esophagus and sew it closed. If the ends of the esophagus are close enough to each other, the surgeon will repair the tube by sewing the ends together.
If the ends of the esophagus are too far apart to attach safely, the surgeon will repair the fistula connected to the trachea (windpipe), but not the esophagus. The surgeon will place a feeding tube in your child’s stomach. This is called a gastrostomy (pronounced gas-STRAH-stuh-mee). The surgery to repair the esophagus will be done later. Your surgeon will discuss the options with you.
Surgery for TEF/EA usually takes 2 to 3 hours.
When your baby leaves the operating room, they will probably need a machine to temporarily help them breathe (ventilator). Your baby may need to use the ventilator for several days after surgery until they have recovered enough to breathe on their own. We will care for your baby in our Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU) both before and after the surgery.
Seattle Children’s is the first hospital in Washington to have a Level IV NICU – the highest level of care for your baby.