Definition of Choanal atresia
Choanal atresia is a narrowing or blockage of the nasal airway by tissue. It is a congenital condition, meaning it is present at birth.
Causes, incidence, and risk factors
The cause of choanal atresia is unknown. It is thought to occur when the thin tissue separating the nose and mouth area during fetal development remains after birth.
Newborns generally prefer to breathe through their nose. Typically, infants only mouth breathe when they cry. Babies with choanal atresia have difficulty breathing unless they are crying.
Signs and tests
A physical examination may show an obstruction of the nose.
The immediate concern is to resuscitate the baby if necessary. An airway may need to be placed so that the infant can breathe. In some cases, intubation or tracheostomy may be needed.
Full recovery is expected.
Neil K. Kaneshiro, MD, MHA, Clinical Assistant Professor of Pediatrics, University of Washington School of Medicine. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Medical Director, A.D.A.M., Inc. – 8/7/2009