A to Z: Atresia

A to Z: Atresia

A to Z: Atresia

Atresia (ah-TREE-zhah) is a condition in which a baby is born with a missing or closed valve or tube somewhere in his or her body. Atresia can affect many body parts, including the nose, ears, organs, digestive tract, and heart.

More to Know

Air, blood, bodily fluids, and waste products travel throughout the body in a system of vessels, tubes, and chambers that are often separated by valves. When a child is born with atresia, it means that a valve is missing or a tube is closed off. This interrupts the normal flow of blood, fluid, waste, or air, which can lead to a number of complications.

Most kinds of atresia are serious and can be fatal if they go untreated. Treatment usually involves surgery while the child is still an infant.

The types of atresia are named for the body parts they affect. Biliary atresia is a defect in the liver or bile system. Choanal atresia is a defect of the nasal passages (choana). Anal atresia (imperforate anus) and esophageal atresia are defects of the digestive tract. Tricuspid atresia, pulmonary atresia, and aortic atresia involve valves in the heart.

Keep in Mind

Most kinds of atresia can be treated successfully with surgery; some cases may require more than one operation.

All A to Z dictionary entries are regularly reviewed by KidsHealth medical experts.





Note: All information is for educational purposes only. For specific medical advice, diagnoses, and treatment, consult your doctor.

© 1995-2014 The Nemours Foundation/KidsHealth. All rights reserved.





Bookmark and Share

Related Resources
Web SiteCongenital Heart Information Network The Congenital Heart Information Network's goal is to provide information and resources to families of children with congenital and acquired heart disease, adults with congenital heart defects, and the professionals who work with them.
OrganizationAmerican College of Surgeons The website of the American College of Surgeons provides consumer information about common surgeries such as appendectomy.
OrganizationNorth American Society for Pediatric Gastroenterology, Hepatology and Nutrition (NASPGHAN) NASPGHAN works to help children and adolescents with digestive disorders.
Related Articles
Preparing Your Child for Surgery Good preparation can help your child feel less anxious about getting surgery. Kids of all ages cope much better if they have an idea of what's going to happen and why.
Congenital Heart Defects Congenital heart defects involve abnormal or incomplete development of the heart. Learn about the different types of congenital heart defects.
Types of Anesthesia Here's a basic look at what each kind of anesthesia does.
When Your Child Needs a Liver Transplant If your child needs a liver transplant, you're probably feeling lots of emotions. Fortunately, many kids who undergo liver transplants go on to live normal, healthy lives.
iGrow iGrow
Sign up for our parent enewsletter