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Repair of Choanal Atresia


Surgery Overview

Choanal atresia (say "KOH-uh-nul uh-TREE-zhuh") is blockage by bone or tissue of the nasal passages (choana) leading from the back of the nose to the throat. The condition—present at birth in about 1 out of 7,000 babies—makes it impossible to breathe through the nose. Choanal atresia is diagnosed at birth when both passages are blocked. If only one passage is blocked, the diagnosis may be made later, usually after you notice that mucus drains from only one of your baby's nostrils.

Repair involves surgery to reopen the nasal passages. Your baby may have a computed tomography (CT) scan, a form of X-ray, before the repair to help the doctor confirm the diagnosis and plan the surgery.

Your baby will receive general anesthesia for the operation. The surgeon can choose one of two approaches: inserting instruments through the nostrils (transnasal) or making an incision in the roof of the mouth (transpalatal). The doctor chooses the approach based on several things, including the anatomy of the nasal passages. The surgeon may prefer to operate through the nose if thin tissue blocks the nasal passages. He or she may prefer to do the surgery through the roof of the mouth if thick bone blocks the nasal passages.

In both approaches, the doctor stitches tubes called nasal stents into the passages to keep them open. After 6 or more weeks, the doctor removes the stents.

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