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Laparoscopic surgery for gastroesophageal reflux disease during the first year of life.

BACKGROUND: Very few children need gastroesophageal antireflux surgery during their first year of life; hence, no series has been published so far. The authors report their experience in 3 centers.

METHODS: From January 1993 to December 1998, 36 infants between 23 days and 13 months of age, suffering from gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD), underwent surgery by a laparoscopic approach. The patients' weights ranged from 2.4 to 8.5 kg. Preoperative diagnostic studies included esophagograms, manometries, endoscopies, and pH-metries. Fifteen babies (41.6%) had associated anomalies, and 10 (27.7%) were neurologically impaired. Thirty-six laparoscopic fundoplications were performed according to either Toupet's procedure (17 of 36), Rossetti's (10 of 36), Nissen's (8 of 36) or Lortat-Jacob's (1 of 36). Four infants previously had undergone a gastrostomy, whereas 6 needed one during the antireflux procedure.

RESULTS: There was no mortality in our series. Three infants (8.3%) had an intraoperative complication: 1 lesion of a diaphragmatic vessel, 1 pneumothorax, and 1 case of severe hiatal hernia requiring conversion to open surgery. During the median follow-up of 22 months, 4 redo procedures were performed (11.1%).

CONCLUSIONS: This experience shows the feasibility of laparoscopic fundoplication even in children below 1 year of age. An accurate preoperative diagnostic study is mandatory, because 50% of these patients presented associated anomalies. A long and accurate follow-up is necessary to evaluate long-term results and detect possible complications, which can occur as late as 1 year after surgery. In addition, we believe that redo antireflux surgery is possible by the laparoscopic approach without major difficulties, based on our larger experience with older children.

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