An imaging study on tracheomalacia in infants with esophageal atresia: the degree of tracheal compression by the brachiocephalic artery is a good indicator for therapeutic intervention

Pediatr Surg Int. 2021 Dec;37(12):1719-1724. doi: 10.1007/s00383-021-04985-0. Epub 2021 Aug 28.


Purpose: Tracheomalacia (TM) is a frequent complication after esophageal atresia (EA) repair. This study aimed to review patients who underwent aortopexy for TM after EA repair and to compare their imaging features.

Methods: The patients who underwent thoracoscopic EA repair and contrast-enhanced computed tomography (CECT) at our hospital between 2013 and 2020 were retrospectively reviewed. The ratio of the lateral and anterior-posterior diameter of the trachea (LAR) where the brachiocephalic artery (BCA) crosses the trachea was defined. The LAR of the patients who underwent CECT for asymptomatic pulmonary disease was set as a normal reference. The Z-score of each LAR was calculated and compared between the patients that did or did not undergo aortopexy.

Results: A total of 51 patients represented the controls, 5 patients underwent aortopexy, and 12 patients were discharged without surgery. The mean LARs in the patients who underwent aortopexy, did not undergo aortopexy, and controls were 3.54, 1.54, and 1.15, respectively. The mean Z-score of the aortopexy group was 21.2. After successful aortopexy, each patient's LAR decreased to < 1.5.

Conclusion: Aortopexy was preferred if the trachea was compressed by the BCA. The LAR is a useful indicator for predicting the therapeutic effect of aortopexy.

Keywords: Aortopexy; Brachiocephalic artery; Esophageal atresia; Tracheomalacia.

MeSH terms

  • Arteries
  • Esophageal Atresia* / complications
  • Esophageal Atresia* / diagnostic imaging
  • Esophageal Atresia* / surgery
  • Humans
  • Infant
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Thoracoscopy
  • Tracheal Diseases* / diagnostic imaging
  • Tracheal Diseases* / etiology
  • Tracheal Diseases* / surgery
  • Tracheomalacia* / diagnostic imaging
  • Tracheomalacia* / surgery