Pulmonary function impairment after trachea-esophageal fistula: a minor role for gastro-esophageal reflux disease

Pediatr Pulmonol. 2011 Apr;46(4):348-55. doi: 10.1002/ppul.21369. Epub 2010 Oct 21.


Background: Long-term impairment of pulmonary function in trachea-esophageal fistula (TEF) patients is, at least in part, commonly ascribed to gastro-esophageal reflux disease (GERD). The objective of this study was to examine the independent effects of the underlying condition and GERD on cardiopulmonary function.

Methods: Cardiopulmonary function of TEF patients, who had (severe) GERD (s-GERD) requiring antireflux surgery (TEF + GERD, n = 11) and TEF patients who did not have s-GERD (group TEF-GERD, n = 20) were compared with control patients who had isolated s-GERD requiring antireflux surgery (group GERD, n = 13). All patients performed spirometry, lung volume measurements, measurement of diffusion capacity and maximal cardiopulmonary exercise testing (CPET).

Results: Mean age of the participants was 13.8 ± 2.7 (group TEF + GERD). 13.2 ± 2.9 (group TEF-GERD), and 14.7 ± 1.5 years (group GERD). FVC and TLC were significantly lower in patients with TEF (with and without s-GERD) when compared to patients with isolated s-GERD. Most pulmonary function parameters were similarly affected in both TEF groups, but FEV(1) was lower in the TEF + GERD group than in the TEF-GERD group. Cardiopulmonary exercise parameters were similar in all groups.

Conclusions: TEF patients had restrictive lung function impairment when compared to patients with isolated s-GERD. This difference may be due to several causes, including thoracotomy. FEV(1) was lower in TEF + GERD when compared to TEF-GERD indicating that GERD may affect large airway function in TEF patients. Other differences between TEF patients with and without s-GERD were not significant, suggesting only a minor role for GERD.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Exercise Test
  • Female
  • Gastroesophageal Reflux / physiopathology*
  • Gastroesophageal Reflux / surgery
  • Humans
  • Lung / physiopathology*
  • Male
  • Postoperative Complications / physiopathology
  • Respiratory Function Tests
  • Severity of Illness Index
  • Tracheoesophageal Fistula / physiopathology*
  • Tracheoesophageal Fistula / surgery
  • Treatment Outcome