Transnasal endoscopic treatment of bilateral choanal atresia in newborns using balloon dilatation: own results and review of literature

Int J Pediatr Otorhinolaryngol. 2014 Mar;78(3):459-64. doi: 10.1016/j.ijporl.2013.12.017. Epub 2013 Dec 24.


Objectives: Congenital choanal atresia is a complete obliteration of the posterior nasal aperture leading to life-threatening airway emergencies. Several surgical options including sublabial, transpalatal, transseptal or external approaches have been developed for the repair of choanal atresia. So far, no gold standard has been established, but transnasal endoscopic approaches have been favored by many surgeons in recent years.

Methods: Since 2008 a standard procedure for bilateral choanal atresia repair in neonates using an endoscopic transnasal approach supported by balloon dilatation has been established at the Department of Otorhinolaryngology at Ulm University Medical Center. During the last five years, six cases of bilateral choanal atresia were diagnosed and treated, including two male and four female patients aged between three days and two months, at the date of surgery. All interventions were performed in transnasal endoscopic technique. In all patients the abnormally thick posterior vomer and the atretic bony plate were resected and the mucosa was perforated. A balloon dilator was used to dilate the neochoanae and prevent restenosis. All six patients were intraoperatively stented for at least six weeks.

Results: All six neonates with bilateral choanal atresia, who were operated in endoscopic transnasal technique had patent neo-choanae on both sides. No severe postoperative complications were found. The number of revisions depends on the age at primary surgery.

Conclusions: Endonasal endoscopic approach and balloon dilatation is a safe, reproducible technique for surgical repair of choanal atresia. We recommend the use of bilateral stents, especially in very young patients, as a prerequisite to prevent early restenosis.

Keywords: Balloon dilatation; Choanal atresia; Restenosis; Transnasal endoscopic approach.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Choanal Atresia / surgery*
  • Dilatation / instrumentation*
  • Dilatation / methods
  • Endoscopy / methods*
  • Female
  • Follow-Up Studies
  • Germany
  • Humans
  • Infant, Newborn
  • Male
  • Minimally Invasive Surgical Procedures / methods*
  • Nasal Cavity
  • Postoperative Complications / epidemiology
  • Postoperative Complications / physiopathology
  • Risk Assessment
  • Sampling Studies
  • Stents
  • Treatment Outcome