Aerodigestive Disorders

Learn from Pediatric Pulmonologist Dr. Cadence Kuklinski what aerodigestive disorders are, how they develop, and what the Aerodigestive Clinic at Memorial can do.

What is an aerodigestive disorder?

Aerodigestive disorders are problems that involve the airway, esophagus, and upper airway, as well as problems that combine issues with breathing, swallowing, and digestion. Those tend to be very specialized different parts of the body. We have very specialized physicians, including a pulmonologist, a gastroenterologist, and an ENT doctor.

How do children develop aerodigestive disorders?

Some children have a problem with, for example, their trachea. They are born with a hole that connects their windpipe and their esophagus. Food can pass between those things. They’re constantly swallowing air so it’s a very serious problem. That gets corrected when they are newborns surgically, but they often have ongoing problems with both their airway and their stomach or their esophagus afterwards.

Discuss the Aerodigestive Clinic at Memorial.

What the Aerodigestive Clinic aims to do is make medical care much more accessible to parents where you get an ENT doctor, a pulmonologist, and a GI doctor all in one place. We all come to the patient as opposed to making them run all around and come to us.

Talk about the coordination of care within the Aerodigestive Clinic.

It’s great because we get to all see them on the same day. Then, we all get together and talk about the patient. We decide what we need to do going forward. Sometimes that involves just medications and tweaking things with the medicines they’re taking or adding medicines to their regimen. Sometimes that involves procedures where we need to use an endoscope or something like that to look into their airway or into their esophagus. We can coordinate that and all be in the OR at the same time and do those procedures under one sedation. It’s much more convenient for the patients and family, and it’s much more helpful for us because it’s a team approach. We all get to work together and see what’s happening at the same time.