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Esophagogastric disconnection for gastroesophageal reflux in children with severe neurological impairment.

PURPOSE: Fundoplication has been used successfully to treat gastroesophageal reflux in the pediatric population; however, the results are poorer in those children with neurological impairment. We propose an alternative approach to the needs of these special patients and report the use of esophagogastric disconnection to control reflux in children with profound neurological impairment.

METHODS: Between 1991 and 1997, 27 esohagogastric disconnections were performed. All patients were severely neurologically impaired with symptomatic gastroesophageal reflux confirmed by an upper gastrointestinal radiographic study. There were 16 boys and 11 girls with ages ranging from 6 months to 40 years. Three had undergone previous fundoplications that failed, whereas the remaining underwent esophagogastric disconnection as a primary antireflux procedure. Follow-up ranged from 1 month to 6.3 years (average, 2.8 years). The operative approach used a midline incision. The gastroesophageal junction was divided, and the gastric side was closed. A 30- to 40-cm jejunal limb was prepared for Roux-en-Y reconstruction and brought up to the esophagus in a retrocolic manner. Esophagojejunal and jejunojejunal anastomoses were then performed. A Stamm tube gastrostomy was placed, and the appendix was removed. A pyloroplasty and tube jejunostomy were performed when felt to be clinically indicated.

RESULTS: Gastroesophageal reflux symptoms resolved, and bolus feedings were tolerated by all patients. Oral feedings were tolerated except in those children limited by their swallowing abilities. Early postoperative complications occurred in eight patients (30%) with two (7%) requiring reoperation (esophageal leak and enterocolitis). Late reoperation was necessary in four patients (15%) for small bowel obstruction, paraesophagcal hernia, gastrostomy revision, and enterocolitis. There were no perioperative deaths, but three patients (11%) died of late surgical complications (two of small bowel obstructions, and one of improper reinsertion of a gastrostomy tube). Three other children died of unrelated causes.

CONCLUSIONS: Esophagogastric disconnection effectively eliminates gastroesophageal reflux while allowing both bolus tube feedings and oral supplementation. This operation provides an alternative method of controlling gastroesophageal reflux in children with profound neurological impairment.

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