The parents of a newborn ask the nurse to identify the chief danger associated with a tracheoesophageal fistula. What should the nurse tell them?


• Esophageal atresia means the esophagus does not connect to the stomach but instead ends in a blind pouch. The tracheoesophageal fistula is a communication between the trachea and esophagus, allowing some matter to enter the trachea and bronchus when swallowing, leading to aspiration.

• The initial feeding of a newborn will reveal the presence of an esophageal atresia with a tracheoesophageal fistula. The infant will begin to choke and cough because the normal route for swallowing is not present. The abnormality will also cause excessive drooling by the infant and cyanosis.

• Emergency surgery for the infant with a tracheoesophageal fistula is essential to prevent the development of pneumonia from leakage of stomach secretions into the lungs or an electrolyte imbalance from lack of oral intake.

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