A patient with a trachesophageal defect may present with signs and symptoms that correlate with the type of defect present.


Signs and Symptoms

Clinical Group

Probable Anatomic Correlate

excessive salivation


esophageal atresia (without tracheal fistula)

excessive salivation

coughing and choking



esophageal atresia with tracheal fistula to distal esophagus

coughing and choking at feeding

cyanosis at feeding


esophageal atresia with tracheal fistula to proximal esophagus

episodic coughing and choking

episodic cyanosis


tracheal fistula to esophagus without atresia

partial regurgitation and dysphagia


esophageal stenosis (without tracheal fistula)



(1) The first 3 groups usually present in infancy and would be associated with poor weight gain and other symptoms.

(2) Patients in Group IV tend to have problems as infants, but problems can persist into adulthood.

(3) Patients in Group V may go undetected if stenosis is mild.



(1) excessive salivation: atresia of esophagus with upper segment ending blindly

(2) coughing and choking: tracheal fistula

(3) cyanosis:tracheal fistula

(4) symptoms associated with feeding: esophageal atresia with tracheal fistula arising off upper segment


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