Background: Tracheal agenesis (TA) is a rare disorder usually diagnosed prenatally when a congenital high airway obstruction syndrome (CHAOS) is identified. We present a case of unexpected TA in a neonate without prenatal diagnosis of airway obstruction, with a difficult management at birth. Moreover, we discuss about differential diagnosis, classification and treatment issues. Case presentation: A 2280 g female neonate was born at 35 week gestational age (GA) with prenatal diagnosis of aortic coarctation, polyhydramnios and diffuse hyperechogenicity of the right lung. At birth, the neonate had no audible cry, no air entry to the lungs, and hypotonia. Tracheal intubation was unsuccessful, and no visualization of the trachea was obtained when tracheostomy was attempted. Post-mortem examination showed tracheal agenesis associated with tracheoesophageal fistula and revealed no cardiologic malformations. Aortic coarctation had been suspected prenatally because of the first portion of the descendent thoracic aorta being compressed by a fibrous band connecting the proximal and distal tracheal branches. CHAOS had not developed due to the tracheoesophageal fistula (TOF). Conclusions: TA is not always diagnosed in the fetus and it may present unexpectedly making the neonate's management at birth critical. An effective rescue temporary oxygenation may be obtained with mask ventilation or oesophageal intubation in those cases of TA associated with a TOF. We suggest to consider a fetal magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) when the association polyhydramnios/lung hyperechogenicity occurs, even in the absence of CHAOS or other malformations. Once a diagnosis is provided, the mother should be transferred to selected centres where an ex-utero intrapartum procedure (EXIT) can be attempted. Moreover, despite high mortality, different surgical management are described to improve survival.
- Airway obstruction
- Congenital malformations