MULTICENTER STUDY
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Thoracoscopic repair of esophageal atresia and tracheoesophageal fistula: a multi-institutional analysis.

Annals of Surgery 2005 September
OBJECTIVES: For the past 60 years, successful repair of esophageal atresia (EA) and distal tracheoesophageal fistula (TEF) has been performed via a thoracotomy. However, a number of reports have described adverse musculoskeletal sequelae following thoracotomy in infants and young children. Until now, only a few scattered case reports have detailed an individual surgeon's success with thoracoscopic repair of EA/TEF. This multi-institutional review represents the largest experience describing the results with this approach.

METHODS: A cohort of international pediatric surgeons from centers that perform advanced laparoscopic and thoracoscopic operations in infants and children retrospectively reviewed their data on primary thoracoscopic repair in 104 newborns with EA/TEF. Newborns with EA without a distal TEF or those with an isolated TEF without EA were excluded.

RESULTS: In these 104 patients, the mean age at operation was 1.2 days (+/-1.1), the mean weight was 2.6 kg (+/-0.5), the mean operative time was 129.9 minutes (+/-55.5), the mean days of mechanical ventilation were 3.6 (+/-5.8), and the mean days of total hospitalization were 18.1 (+/-18.6). Twelve (11.5%) infants developed an early leak or stricture at the anastomosis and 33 (31.7%) required esophageal dilatation at least once. Five operations (4.8%) were converted to an open thoracotomy and one was staged due to a long gap between the 2 esophageal segments. Twenty-five newborns (24.0%) later required a laparoscopic fundoplication. A recurrent fistula between the esophagus and trachea developed in 2 infants (1.9%). A number of other operations were required in these patients, including imperforate anus repair in 10 patients (7 high, 3 low), aortopexy (7), laparoscopic duodenal atresia repair (4), and various major cardiac operations (5). Three patients died, one related to the EA/TEF on the 20th postoperative day.

CONCLUSIONS: The thoracoscopic repair of EA/TEF represents a natural evolution in the operative correction of this complicated congenital anomaly and can be safely performed by experienced endoscopic surgeons. The results presented are comparable to previous reports of babies undergoing repair through a thoracotomy. Based on the associated musculoskeletal problems following thoracotomy, there will likely be long-term benefits for babies with this anomaly undergoing the thoracoscopic repair.

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