On September 22, 2013, one month old Mario was admitted to an area hospital with a diagnosis of bronchiolitis, a lung infection that causes congestion in the small airways of the lung. He was later transferred to Yale New Haven Children’s Hospital so that he can be treated by pediatric specialists in respiratory medicine. Upon his arrival, physicians inserted a flexible tube into Mario’s mouth and down his trachea to help keep his airway open and allow him to breathe better. He remained in the intensive care unit for about a month with the tube in place. When it was first removed, he could not breathe on his own for more than an hour, which puzzled physicians. Pediatric pulmonologist Dr. Americo Esquibies was introduced to the case and after learning that the child had been congested since his birth; Dr. Esquibies suspected this wasn’t a case of bronchiolitis, but rather a more serious medical condition so he consulted with a pediatric otolaryngologist. They decided to perform a bronchoscopy on Mario, a procedure where a slender tube with a camera at the end of it is inserted in the patient’s airway, to see what could be causing him difficulty breathing. It showed them that Mario had a condition called tracheostenosis where the trachea is narrowed. This makes it difficult to breathe, which meant that Mario needed a special surgery to remove the area of his trachea that was severely narrowed and realign it.
Pediatric surgeon, Dr. Michael Caty, reviewed the case and on October 23, 2013, performed a slide tracheoplasty that would fix Mario’s trachea. Mario recovered over the next several months following the surgery and today continues to see Dr. Esquibies once every two months. Occasionally he sees Dr. Caty for a one day procedure that helps keep his trachea at the proper width as he grows. Mario’s family is very grateful to the aerodigestive team for finding out what was wrong with Mario and treating his rare condition.