Repair of Rare Birth Defect Featured Topic of Webcast on Thursday, March 11

March 8, 2010

WINSTON-SALEM, N.C. – John Petty, M.D., a pediatric surgeon at Brenner Children’s Hospital, part of Wake Forest University Baptist Medical Center, will perform a surgical repair of a rare birth defect, called esophageal atresia and tracheoesophageal fistula, that will be broadcast at 5 p.m., on Thursday, March 11 over the internet. The patient is a nine week old premature infant.

Charles Turner, M.D., also a pediatric surgeon at Brenner Children’s Hospital, will narrate the procedure.

To view this webcast, visit The webcast will also be archived on the Wake Forest Baptist website.

Esophageal atresia is a disorder in which the esophagus does not develop properly. The esophagus is the tube that normally carries food from the mouth to the stomach. In 85 percent of cases, the upper part of the esophagus ends blindly and the lower part of the esophagus connects the trachea to the stomach. Babies with this problem choke and gag when they are fed, because the milk has no way to make it to the stomach. 

Sometimes this disorder is suspected before birth through ultrasound examinations.  If not, the disorder is detected shortly after birth when the child attempts to feed. The infant will choke, turn blue, cough and not tolerate feedings because the esophagus is not properly formed, according to surgeons at Brenner Children’s Hospital.

Surgery is usually performed to close the abnormal connection between the esophagus and the windpipe, and then connect the esophagus so that it is one long tube from the mouth to the stomach.  This allows the baby to drink milk and receive nutrition.  Without a corrective operation, the baby could never feed by mouth. 

Children typically recover from this four-hour, life-saving, surgical procedure quite well and are usually feeding well by mouth before they leave the hospital, Petty said.

For more information about pediatric surgeries at Brenner Children’s Hospital, visit 

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