Reflux esophageal stricture--a review of 30 years' experience in children

J Pediatr Surg. 2010 Dec;45(12):2356-60. doi: 10.1016/j.jpedsurg.2010.08.033.


Purpose: Strictures of the esophagus in children may have multiple etiologies including congenital, inflammatory, infectious, caustic ingestion, and gastroesophageal reflux (peptic stricture [PS]). Current literature lacks good data documenting long-term outcomes in children. This makes it difficult to counsel some patients about realistic treatment expectations. The objective of this study is to evaluate our institutional experience and define the natural history and treatment outcomes.

Methods: A retrospective review of clinical data obtained from children who underwent dilation for PS was performed.

Results: Over the past 30 years, 114 children and adolescents received 486 dilations. The most common indications for stricture dilation were PS (42%) and esophageal atresia (38%). Other lesser indications included congenital, foreign body, corrosive, cancer, radiation, allergic, and infectious. This review focuses on the 48 children with PS. Of the children with PS, a congenital anomaly was identified in 23 children; and 12 had neurologic impairment. Average age at presentation was 10.2 years (range, 0.5-18.3 years). Most patients had had symptoms for many months before diagnosis. Peptic stricture was most common in the lower esophagus (n = 39). However, middle (n = 8) and upper (n = 1) strictures were occasionally identified. Noncompliance with medical therapy was a challenge in 12% (n = 5) of children. Children with a PS received a median of 3 dilations, but a subset of 5 patients with severe strictures underwent up to 48 dilations (range, 1-48). Repeated dilations were required for a median of 20 months (range, 1-242 months). Among patients receiving esophageal dilation for PS, 94% required an antireflux procedure (19% required a second antireflux surgery). A subgroup of patients (n = 10) was identified who required extended dilations, multiple surgeries, and esophageal resection. This subgroup had a significantly longer period of symptomatic disease and increased risk of esophageal resection compared with those patients requiring fewer dilations. Surgical resection of the esophageal stricture was ultimately required in 3 children with PS after failure of more conservative measures.

Conclusion: Children and adolescents presenting with reflux esophageal stricture (PS) frequently require antireflux surgery, redo antireflux surgery, and multiple dilations for recurrent symptoms. We hope that these data will be of use to the clinician attempting to counsel patients and parents about treatment expectations in this challenging patient population.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Barrett Esophagus / epidemiology
  • Barrett Esophagus / etiology
  • Barrett Esophagus / therapy
  • Catheterization / statistics & numerical data
  • Child
  • Child, Preschool
  • Combined Modality Therapy
  • Esophageal Stenosis / epidemiology
  • Esophageal Stenosis / etiology*
  • Esophageal Stenosis / surgery
  • Esophageal Stenosis / therapy
  • Esophagitis, Peptic / epidemiology
  • Esophagitis, Peptic / etiology
  • Esophagoplasty / statistics & numerical data
  • Female
  • Fundoplication / statistics & numerical data
  • Gastroesophageal Reflux / complications*
  • Gastroesophageal Reflux / drug therapy
  • Gastroesophageal Reflux / surgery
  • Humans
  • Infant
  • Male
  • Patient Compliance
  • Retrospective Studies