Tracheomalacia – congenital

Alternative Names

Type 1 tracheomalacia

Definition of Tracheomalacia – congenital

Congenital tracheomalacia is a weakness and floppiness of the walls of the windpipe (trachea), which is present at birth.

Causes, incidence, and risk factors

Tracheomalacia in a newborn occurs when the cartilage in the windpipe (trachea) has not developed properly. Instead of being rigid, the walls of the trachea are floppy. Because the windpipe is the main airway, breathing difficulties begin soon after birth.

Symptoms

Symptoms can range from mild to severe and may include:

Signs and tests

A physical examination confirms the symptoms. An x-ray will be done to rule out other problems. The chest x-ray may show narrowing of the trachea when breathing in.

Treatment

Most infants respond well to humidified air, careful feedings, and antibiotics for infections. Babies with tracheomalacia must be closely monitored when they have respiratory infections.

Expectations (prognosis)

Congenital tracheomalacia generally goes away on its own by the age of 18-24 months. As the tracheal cartilage gets stronger and the trachea grows, the noisy respirations and breathing difficulties gradually stop. Persons with tracheomalacia must be monitored closely when they have respiratory infections.

Review

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. – 5/11/2009

ADAM Medical Encyclopedia

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