What Are Tracheal Rings?

The trachea (windpipe) is made up of cartilage, which is also called tracheal rings.  Normally, tracheal rings are “C” shaped.   Complete tracheal rings are “O” shaped.  The “O”-shaped rings are always smaller than the normal “C” shape and may make it harder to breathe due to a narrower trachea. 

Complete tracheal rings are a rare condition present at birth.  It is usually associated with other vascular (blood vessel), heart, or lung abnormalities.

Children with complete tracheal rings may have associated malformations, cardiac and pulmonary anomalies, Down syndrome, and Pfeiffer syndrome. Tracheal rings can be associated with a condition in which the pulmonary artery wraps around the trachea and causes it to compress, narrowing the opening.