Etiology and management of respiratory complications after repair of esophageal atresia with tracheoesophageal fistula

Surgery. 1992 Sep;112(3):527-32.


This article reviews the cause and management of respiratory symptoms after repair of esophageal atresia with tracheoesophageal fistula (TEF). Postoperative respiratory symptoms developed in 31 (46%) of 68 patients and included apnea and bradycardia, respiratory arrest, aspiration, and recurrent pneumonia. The respiratory symptoms were initially attributed to gastroesophageal reflux (GER) in 20 patients (64%), tracheomalacia in 4 patients (13%), recurrent TEF in 4 patients (13%), and anastomotic stricture in 3 patients (10%). Three patients with GER and the three patients with a stricture were initially managed nonoperatively. The remaining 25 patients underwent surgical correction of the underlying cause of the respiratory symptoms. Despite aggressive management of this problem, 14 (45%) of these 31 patients had persistent or recurrent respiratory symptoms. Although GER is the most common cause of respiratory complications in patients who have undergone prior TEF repair, other factors are often responsible for these symptoms and should not be overlooked.

MeSH terms

  • Esophageal Atresia / complications
  • Esophageal Atresia / surgery*
  • Gastroesophageal Reflux / complications
  • Humans
  • Postoperative Complications*
  • Recurrence
  • Respiration Disorders / etiology*
  • Respiration Disorders / therapy
  • Tracheoesophageal Fistula / complications
  • Tracheoesophageal Fistula / surgery*