What Is a Laryngeal Cleft (or Laryngotracheoesophageal Cleft)?

There are two tubes in your neck or throat:

1. The esophagus, which helps food and liquid pass from our mouth to stomach
2. The trachea (windpipe), which takes oxygen to our lungs as we breathe in

The larynx (voice box) sits at the top of the trachea, right next to the esophagus. It helps keep any food or liquid from getting into the tube leading to our lungs.

The larynx and the esophagus should not have any type of space or gap between them. When a gap exists, it is known as a laryngeal cleft. With a cleft, food or liquids can go into the airway tube when the child swallows. This causes a number of eating and breathing problems.