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. Aortic atresia is a rare defect that involves valves in the 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.
Atresia can affect many body parts, including the nose, ears, organs, digestive tract, and heart. The types of atresia are named for the body parts they affect:
- Tricuspid atresia and pulmonary atresia also involve valves in the heart.
- Choanal atresia is a defect of the nasal passages (choana).
- Biliary atresia is a defect in the liver or bile system.
- Anal atresia (imperforate anus) and esophageal atresia are defects of the digestive tract.
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.