Purpose: This review provides a blueprint to deal with the diagnosis and management of recurrent tracheoesophageal fistulas.
Methods: A retrospective review over 27 years found 26 recurrent tracheoesophageal fistulas. Descriptive statistical analyses were performed.
Results: In this cohort of 26 patients, 18 had a leak after their primary operation; and 22 had respiratory symptoms leading to the discovery of the recurrent fistula. The diagnosis was made by contrast study in 24. The repairs entailed placing a catheter through the fistula; separating the trachea and esophagus using sharp dissection; and placing tissue, preferably pericardium, between the suture lines. Postoperative complications included 7 anastamotic leaks, 4 strictures, and 3 recurrent fistulas. Long-term follow-up (median of 84 months) showed that 21 took all of their nutrition by mouth, 3 were tube fed, and 2 required a combination. Of the 23 patients with growth chart data, 16 fell in the first quartile of the growth chart, whereas none fell between the 75th and 100th percentile.
Conclusion: This series, the largest to date, describes characteristics of recurrent tracheoesophageal fistulas, including techniques to make the diagnosis and provide a secure closure of the fistula, and the long-term outcomes of these patients.
Copyright 2010. Published by Elsevier Inc.