Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta is home to the only pediatric aerodigestive clinic in the Southeast, and our team of pediatric-trained physicians has the expertise to treat children and young adults with aerodigestive issues, including:
- Airway disease and malacia
- Aspiration and dysphagia
- Chronic cough or croup
- Congenital abnormalities of the airway and esophagus
- Eosinophilic esophagitis or gastritis
- Feeding disorders
- Gastrostomy tube feeds or nasogastric tube feeds
- Gastroesophageal reflux (GERD)
- Recurrent pneumonia
- Severe asthma
- Stridor and wheezing
- Tracheal stenosis
- Tracheoesophageal fistula and esophageal atresia
Who is on our aerodigestive team?
Our patients see an interdisciplinary team of physicians and specialists from multiple service areas who work together to provide the best possible care. Led by Dawn M. Simon, MD, Medical Director, the Children’s Aerodigestive Clinic team includes:
- Gastroenterologists: Benjamin Gold, MD; Barbara McElhanon, MD
- General surgeons: Amina Bhatia, MD
- Pulmonologists: Allan Dias, MD; Rachel Linnemann, MD; Jonathan Popler, MD; Eric Price, MD; Dawn Simon, MD, Medical Director
- Otolaryngologists: Lori Gentile, MD; Nikhila Raol, MD; James Thomsen, MD
- Advanced practice providers: Suzanne Marie Alfors, CPNP; Heather Buckley, PA-C
- Dietitian: Brittany Linton
- Respiratory therapists: Tracy Edwards, RT; Vivian Snodgrass, RT
- Speech-language pathologists: Lauren Baxter, SLP; Erin Crane, SLP
- Nurses: Lauren Eagens, RN; Katherine Ford, RN; Jenny Welch, RN
- Social worker: Laurie Hobbs, LCSW
A pediatric aerodigestive patient is a child with a combination of multiple and interrelated congenital and/or acquired conditions affecting the airway, breathing, feeding, swallowing or growth who requires a coordinated interdisciplinary diagnostic and therapeutic approach to achieve optimal outcomes.
Aerodigestive patients have trouble swallowing, or have related GI issues, in addition to respiratory symptoms. Our clinic brings together pediatric specialists in pulmonology, otolaryngology, gastroenterology, feeding therapy and other subspecialties to manage the care of children with a variety of disorders involving the respiratory and digestive systems.
In addition to being the primary specialty clinic for children with tracheoesophageal fistula and/or esophageal atresia, some types of patients followed in the Aerodigestive Clinic include:
A child with a challenging airway malformation, severe sleep apnea or with a trach who is difficult to wean or decannulate. We can evaluate the child for medical and/or anatomical reasons that are contributing to continued breathing problems or difficulty weaning and can provide consultation prior to airway reconstruction by our team or the child’s primary surgeon.
A child with a congenital cardiac condition or tracheoesophageal malformation who also experiences airway issues, such as hypoxia, stridor or recurrent infection, and/or who has complex GI needs, such as dysphagia or requiring enteral feedings. Management by our team may reduce the risk of pulmonary hypertension and burden to the cardiac system from aerodigestive symptoms.
A child typically nearing 12 months of age or older with dysphagia of unknown origin who shows no improvement with feeding therapy or on repeat swallow studies, or a child of any age with dysphagia for whom there is concern for anatomic anomalies or increased respiratory symptoms, such as cough, stridor, pneumonias or upper respiratory infections (URIs).
A child with moderate to severe gastroesophageal reflux (GERD) symptoms, plus a cough, recurrent URI, pulmonary infections, hospitalizations, failure to thrive, stridor or hypoxia.
Call 404-785-DOCS (3627) if you are unsure whether an aerodigestive referral is appropriate, and ask to speak with an aerodigestive provider. Aerodigestive advanced practice providers review every referral to determine if it is appropriate for a consultation. If there are any questions, they may see the patient first in an advanced practice provider clinic. Following an assessment, they may proceed to a team clinic.
- Internal referrals can be ordered in Epic by typing “referral aerodigestive.”
- External referrals can be faxed to 404-785-9111.
The Children’s Aerodigestive Clinic is located at the Center for Advanced Pediatrics. Procedures are performed at our Egleston and Scottish Rite hospitals.