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Choanal Atresia: Embryologic Analysis and Evolution of Treatment, a 30-Year Experience


  • This work was performed at University of Rochester, Rochester, NY, U.S.A.

  • Some of the data were presented at the Triological Society Meeting, Palm Beach, Florida, U.S.A., 1994. The presentation has been accepted for the 2007 Otolaryngology Academy meeting, Washington, DC, September 19, 2007.


Objectives: Choanal atresia (CA) is a congenital obstruction of the posterior nasal apertures. Multiple surgical techniques have been proposed to repair the atresia. The purpose of this study is to review the basic science and embryology of CA with emphasis on the senior author's extensive experience, and refinement of the treatment of CA. In addition, we will review the outcomes after surgical correction of pediatric patients with CA.

Patients and Methods: Retrospective review of 73 pediatric patients. Demographic information was recorded, including type of CA, concomitant medical problems, surgical method, and date of last follow-up by the surgeon.

Results: Our series show a 1.6:1 ratio of unilateral atresia to bilateral atresia. The incidence in males and females is statistically equal. High-arched palate and cross-bite deformities are particularly present if the patients undergo the transpalatal approach in the first year of life. The senior author has evolved to favoring the endoscopic approach, having a minimal long-term complication rate, and low stenosis rate (12%).

Conclusions: The first repair of choanal atresia is the one most likely to succeed. The nasal endoscopic technique is the favored technique. It has the advantages of a low restenosis rate, does not violate the palate, and does not cause the cross-bite and palate arch deformities seen in the transpalatal technique.