Choanal atresia or stenosis birth defects are a type of abnormality that affects the nasal passages. When this happens the nasal passages can be narrowed or become blocked by extra tissue. Because these types of birth defects are considered to be congenital, they are seen immediately at the time of birth. The condition can impact just one nostril, or it can impact both nostrils, making it either unilateral or bilateral. If the defect presents a bilateral situation, it can become fatal because it forces babies to breathe exclusively through their noses. Infants with this condition may need to be resuscitated immediately after birth, as they may aspirate or go into respiratory failure.
It has been found that females have two times the risk of developed choanal atresia. The condition on the whole impacts one out of every seven thousand births, and is considered to be the most common abnormality affecting the nasal passages in newborn babies.
If you are concerned that your baby may have choanal atresia or stenosis, you should be on the lookout for the following symptoms:
Treatment of Choanal atresia
- Trouble breathing following birth
- Not being able to feed and breathe at the same time
- Discharge or nasal blockage that seems to be persistent, especially on one side
- The chest appears to retract when the baby breaths through his or her mouth or cries
Treatment of Choanal atresia involves an operation under general anaesthetic (so your baby is deeply asleep), which lasts about an hour. The surgeon will make a hole through the bone or tissue blocking the nasal passages. To make sure these holes stay open, the surgeon will put a small, plastic tube in each nostril. These tubes, called nasal stents, are held in place by stitches.
Are there any risks?
All the doctors who perform this operation have had lots of experience and will minimise the chance of problems occurring. All surgeries carry a small risk of bleeding during or after the operation. Every anaesthetic carries a risk of complications, but this is very small. Your child’s anaesthesiologist
is a very experienced doctor who is trained to deal with any complications.
What happens post surgery?
All babies are closely monitored after the operation. Your baby will be connected to monitors to check his or her breathing, heart rate and oxygen levels. A few hours after the operation, your baby will be able to feed, either by breastfeeding or from a bottle. It may take a few days for your baby to become used to breast or bottle feeding. You will be able to go home once your baby is feeding properly and gaining weight.
Prognosis for babies born with choanal atresia
Once the choanal atresia has been treated, the outlook for babies with no other problems is good. Most grow up to lead normal lives, working and raising a family. If your baby has other problems, the outlook will depend on these factors - the doctors will explain the likely outlook for your baby in more detail. You should contact your paediatrician
- Your baby is having difficulty breathing
- Your baby has yellowish ooze from his or her nose
- Your baby is bleeding from his or her nose
- Your baby has a high temperature of 98.4°F or higher
- The stents become loose or fall out