Esophageal atresia repair with thoracotomy: the Cincinnati contemporary experience

Semin Pediatr Surg. 2009 Feb;18(1):12-9. doi: 10.1053/j.sempedsurg.2008.10.003.


Esophageal atresia/tracheoesophageal fistula (EA/TEF) repair using an open muscle-sparing thoracotomy has been the standard approach used in our institution. Whereas perioperative mortality is now very uncommon, short- and long-term morbidity is very common in these patients. However, the complexity of the esophageal anatomy and significant comorbidities appear to be important contributors to significant complications in these patients. At least 30% of the EA/TEF patients required esophageal dilatations for anastomotic stricture; this increased to 50% for patients with pure EA. Gastroesophageal reflux requiring an antireflux procedure was performed 23% of the time for EA/TEF and 30% for EA patients. In addition, there were a few complications, such as winging of the scapula and scoliosis, that were attributed in part to the utilization of a nonmuscle-sparing thoracotomy. The standard muscle-sparing thoracotomy remains a very versatile and useful approach to repairing esophageal atresia, and it is the standard for repairing more complex anatomical variants. The self-reported long-term quality of life in these patients is very good, except for a few individuals with protracted feeding disorders and severe dysphagia.

MeSH terms

  • Esophageal Atresia / surgery*
  • Humans
  • Infant
  • Infant, Newborn
  • Postoperative Complications / diagnosis
  • Postoperative Complications / therapy*
  • Quality of Life
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Thoracotomy*
  • Tracheoesophageal Fistula / surgery*