Skip to main content

Tracheoesophageal Fistula

Medically reviewed by Last updated on Apr 2, 2024.

What is a tracheoesophageal fistula?

A tracheoesophageal fistula (TEF) is an abnormal connection between your trachea and esophagus. Your trachea brings air into your lungs. Your esophagus carries food from your mouth to your stomach. A TEF can cause food to pass from your esophagus into your trachea and lungs. This can cause breathing problems or infections, such as pneumonia.

What causes a TEF?

TEF may be caused by an injury to the neck or chest. A mechanical ventilation or a tracheostomy tube placement can cause TEF. Tumors, infections, or nasogastric tube placement may also cause TEF. Sometimes a child is born with TEF.

What are the signs and symptoms of a TEF?

The signs and symptoms of TEF depend on the size of the fistula. Your signs may be different if you are on a ventilator. You may have one or more of the following:

How is a TEF diagnosed?

How is a TEF treated?

When should I contact my healthcare provider?

When should I seek immediate care or call 911?

Care Agreement

You have the right to help plan your care. Learn about your health condition and how it may be treated. Discuss treatment options with your healthcare providers to decide what care you want to receive. You always have the right to refuse treatment. The above information is an educational aid only. It is not intended as medical advice for individual conditions or treatments. Talk to your doctor, nurse or pharmacist before following any medical regimen to see if it is safe and effective for you.

© Copyright Merative 2024 Information is for End User's use only and may not be sold, redistributed or otherwise used for commercial purposes.

Learn more about Tracheoesophageal Fistula

Treatment options

Further information

Always consult your healthcare provider to ensure the information displayed on this page applies to your personal circumstances.