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Seattle Children’s Airway and Esophageal Center

Comprehensive care for all children with complex breathing and swallowing conditions

Seattle Children’s Airway and Esophageal Center is the only center in the Pacific Northwest that is skilled and equipped to care for children with complex conditions affecting their airway (windpipe and voice box) and swallowing tube (esophagus). From your child’s first assessment through treatment and long-term follow-up, we work as a team to provide seamless care. U.S. News & World Report consistently ranks Seattle Children’s among the top children’s hospitals in the country. We treat babies, children, teens and young adults.

Airway and Esophageal Conditions We Treat

  • Bronchomalacia
  • Tracheomalacia
  • Esophageal injury and trauma
  • Complete tracheal rings
  • Vascular rings and slings

Why Choose Our Airway and Esophageal Center

Gloved hands holding a 3-d printed airway

Transformative care customized to your child’s needs

We are pioneers in virtual surgical planning techniques for complex pediatric airway and esophageal procedures. Using 3D printing, we create anatomical models that are unique to each patient, from tiny airways to squishy hearts. Advanced airway imaging helps us better understand and fix a child’s breathing and swallowing problems.

Read more


An expert team centered on your child

Our team has extensive experience treating the most complex pediatrics airway and swallowing conditions. From otolaryngologists (ear, nose and throat) to pulmonologists (lung) to gastroenterologists (GI) to general surgeons, we partner with you to create tailored treatment plans and give your child exceptional medical care. Our specialized speech and language pathologists, dietitians, nurses, and care coordinators work with you so all your child’s needs are met in one place.

Read how our team tailors treatment to each patient.

A baby is examined at Seattle Children's

150+ children with TEF/EA seen at Seattle Children’s
120+ aerodigestive procedures per year performed by our otolaryngology, pulmonary, and gastroenterology teams
325+ patients managed annually through our Aerodigestive Program
450+ sleep endoscopies performed for obstructive sleep apnea patients over the past two years

Our Airway and Esophageal Services

We offer a broad range of services, from advanced imaging and innovative surgeries to expert feeding therapy and the newest medications. We tailor treatment to your child’s condition and unique anatomy.

A Seattle Children's provider helps a patient, who is blowing into a tube.

TEF and EA care for newborns through young adults 

Seattle Children’s has the only team in the region with expertise in all the areas that babies with tracheoesophageal fistula (TEF) and esophageal atresia (EA) may need. Our surgery team is very experienced in performing procedures to repair TEF and EA. More cases mean greater skill and better outcomes.

Read how we care for children with TEF and EA.

A surgeon performing surgery

Solving complex airway problems

Sometimes, children’s airways can become narrowed (airway or tracheal stenosis), making it hard to breathe. Our team has experience in diagnosing, treating, and supporting children with complex airways across the care continuum. We are adept at minimally invasive techniques, which result in less pain and faster recovery times.

Meet our team.

A Seattle Children's provider examines a patient

Aerodigestive Program spans breathing, swallowing and eating systems

Our Aerodigestive Program cares for children from birth to age 21 who have complex upper airway, breathing and swallowing problems. Our team works together to identify your child’s problems and how they are connected. Then we create a care plan that spans their respiratory, digestive and pulmonary systems. 

A nurse adjusts the tubing of a toddler in a hospital bed

Novel care for children with persistent obstructive sleep apnea

Obstructive sleep apnea happens when your child's airway closes during sleep. This blocks air from getting in and signals their brain to wake up. Our Refractory Obstructive Sleep Apnea (ROSA) Clinic brings together medical and surgical experts who are dedicated to exploring new and evolving treatments and therapies to treat your child’s persistent obstructive sleep apnea.

Dr Arya pointing to a ultrasound image with a nurse and patient

Expert care, starting before birth

If a serious condition is discovered during pregnancy, our Fetal Care and Treatment Center team can help you prepare for what lies ahead. We work with your birth hospital to arrange the special care your baby will need. We have a highly skilled transport team and the state’s first Level IV Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU), the highest level of care.

Patient Success Stories

A family stands in a field
Photo courtesy of Four Oaks Photography.

“You would never know what she’s been through. She has a tiny scar and that’s all. Seattle Children’s is the best place ever. The whole care team was our family.” 

– Timothy Mauesby, whose daughter Nia struggled to breathe because she was born with an extremely narrow bronchial tube

Read their story


“At first, it was very overwhelming. You see so many tubes, cords, and DJ was in a box. But everything was taken care of for us at Seattle Children’s.”

– Angela McCulloch, whose son DJ enjoys school, sports and the outdoors after surgeries for TEF and EA at Seattle Children’s.

 Read DJ's story

Airway and Esophageal Procedures

We treat children with all types of conditions that affect their breathing and swallowing. Our expertise includes these and other procedures:

  • Aortopexy
  • Tracheopexy
  • Foker procedure
  • Jejunal interposition
  • Airway reconstruction, such as slide tracheoplasty and laryngotracheoplasty (LTR)
  • Multi-level airway and jaw (orthognathic) surgery for complex sleep issues
  • Tracheoesophageal fistula (TEF) and esophageal atresia (EA) repair and revision

Getting Care at the Airway and Esophageal Center

Many children and families with conditions affecting their windpipe or swallowing tube travel to Seattle Children's for treatment or surgery. We help you coordinate transportation and housing so you can stay focused on your child. We have lots of experience helping families make the transition back home safely.