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The Center for Airway Disorders (CAD) at Boston Children's Hospital cares for infants, children, and young adults with airway problems — from common conditions to the most rare and complex disorders. Our airway team treats thousands of patients each year, helping children born with:

 

What are airway disorders?

Airway disorders are disorders of the larynx (voice box) trachea (windpipe) that can affect the ability to breathe, eat, and swallow normally.

What are symptoms of airway disorders?

Depending on the specific condition, your child may experience symptoms such as:

  • wheezing
  • turning blue
  • aspirating (breathing in) food
  • choking
  • developing recurrent bouts of pneumonia

Because of the seriousness of these symptoms, children with airway disorders require expert care.

How we treat airway disorders in children

Boston Children’s has one of the largest pediatric otolaryngology (ear, nose, and throat) teams and the largest cardiovascular surgery team in the U.S. Our team also works closely with more than a dozen other departments and 40 specialists throughout the hospital, making it possible for your child to receive prompt, specialized care for any type of airway disorder — no matter how simple, complex, or rare.

We provide all patients with a comprehensive evaluation, and then we work together with you and our colleagues to formulate a personalized care plan. Many children with airway disorders can be managed medically — that is, without surgery. Depending on your child’s specific condition, we may recommend starting with noninvasive approaches, such as feeding therapy. The licensed speech-language pathologists in Boston Children’s Feeding and Swallowing Program specialize in helping infants and children who have difficulty eating and drinking, and are an important part of our team at the Center for Airway Disorders.

If surgery is necessary, your child is in good hands. Our experienced clinicians have performed thousands of minimally invasive (endoscopic) procedures, including those involving lasers, balloon dilation, and microdebriders (a type of hand-held surgical cutting tool). These advanced procedures result in less pain and scarring, and faster recovery for your child. We are also one of the few airway centers in the world that provides a pediatric cardiothoracic surgeon on its leadership team for more complex procedures.

Whatever treatment we recommend, our program coordinator will communicate with your child’s doctors and specialists back home to ensure seamless care at every step of your journey.