Gastrooesophageal reflux (GER) is common in patients with oesophageal atresia (OA). Complicated GER often manifests itself early after the primary repair (PR) and frequently requires antireflux surgery (ARS). How many patients will be later affected is unknown. We conducted an objective long-term follow-up for the cumulative incidence of OA-associated GER based on pH-metry and histology.
Sixty-one consecutive patients with their native oesophagus, who underwent PR for OA with a distal fistula from 1989 to 2004, were included. These children were grouped according to the Spitz classification with 77% as type I, 20% as type II, and 3% as type III. Significant heart disease, tracheomalacia, or gastric outlet obstruction occurred in 18.0 %, 9.8%, and 17.3% respectively, and a wide gap between esophageal segments occurred in 13.1%. Endoscopy and pH-metry at 1 year were followed up by endoscopy and selective pH-metry at 3, 5, and 10 years. Gastrooesophageal reflux was considered significant (sGER) when a patient underwent ARS, endoscopic biopsies disclosed at least moderate oesophagitis, or when total or preprandial reflux index were greater than 10% or 5%, respectively, with or without long (>5 minutes) reflux periods). Significant GER was considered resolved if, without need for ARS or medication, pH-metry or biopsies returned to normal and the patient was symptomless for at least 3 years.
The incidence of sGER/(number of assessed patients) at 6 months, 1 year, 3 years, 5 years, and 10 years was 16.3% (61), 39.3% (61), 44.2% (52), 51.2 % (43), and 44.4% (27). Overall, 28/61 (45.9%) of patients had sGER, and 18/28 (64.3%) patients underwent ARS. In one patient, sGER resolved during the follow-up.
The number of children with sGER associated with OA more than doubled from 6 months to 1 year after PR. Thereafter, there is a progressive increase in the incidence of sGER with age up to 5 years. Spontaneous resolution of sGER is rare.