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Choanal Atresia Repair in Teenagers

written by: DaniellaNicole • edited by: Leigh A. Zaykoski • updated: 8/16/2010

Choanal atresia repair in teenagers is not as common as in infants, but the surgery does take place and with success. Learn about this condition as well as what to expect in recovery from surgery.

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    Choanal Atresia Repair

    Choanal atresia repair in teenagers is not as common as it is in babies, but it still takes place and with good results.

    Choanal atresia is the name for a condition in which tissue or bone blocks the nasal passages. This blockage occurs anywhere from the rear part of the nose all the way down to the back of the throat. Though the cause of choanal atresia is unknown, it is associated with multiple genetic problems including trisomy 18 and Down syndrome.

    Choanal atresia can be diagnosed at birth when both of the baby’s nasal passages are blocked. This is called bilateral choanal atresia. This form of choanal atresia is considered a medical emergency because it affects and blocks airways.

    When only one nasal passage is blocked, it is called unilateral choanal atresia. The diagnosis may not occur until some time later when a parent or caregiver notices that only one nasal passage ever drains mucous. In either form, choanal atresia is treated through surgery to remove the blockage.

    For various reasons, the diagnosis may not occur until the child is in his teens or early twenties.

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    Complications and Risks

    In a study published in 1995, four patients comprised of teens and children underwent endoscopic surgery for choanal atresia as part of an overall study on endoscopic nasal and sinus surgery. The findings showed that problems with healing were far more predictable in those who underwent adult surgery (teen) than in those who underwent the children’s surgery. This was due to the difficulty in performing postoperative debridement and examination in children as compared to teenagers.

    Nasal passage injury during surgery can occur, but it is extremely rare.

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    Recovery

    Teens who undergo choanal atresia repair surgery can expect to be able to breathe normally after surgery. The hospital stay may be one or two days.

    At home, several things may be needed to be done with the recovering patient. The nasal passages will need to be kept clean and clear. The doctor or a nurse can demonstrate the best methods for accomplishing this. Additionally, signs of infection will need to be watched for and reported immediately, along with any other unusual symptoms or signs of problems such as bleeding or fever.

    The doctor will want a follow-up appointment and will likely use an endoscope to examine the surgical site.

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    Summary

    While choanal atresia repair in teenagers is not as common as it is in infants, it not an unusual surgery and the risks are similar to those of other nasal or sinus surgeries. The benefit is that the teen gets improved breathing and airway function.

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    References

    Repair of Choanal Atresia – Surgery Overview. WebMD. Last updated November 9, 2009. http://www.webmd.com/baby/tc/repair-of-choanal-atresia-surgery-overview

    Pediatric Endoscopic Nasal and Sinus Surgery. JA Stankiwicz. U.S. National Library of Medicine: National Institutes of Health. Otolaryngol Head Neck Surg. 1995 Sept; 11(3) 204-10. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/7675479