Variations in preoperative decision making for antireflux procedures in pediatric gastroesophageal reflux disease: a survey of pediatric surgeons

J Pediatr Surg. 2011 Jun;46(6):1093-8. doi: 10.1016/j.jpedsurg.2011.03.035.


Background/purpose: The purpose of the study was to identify influential factors contributing to the variation with which antireflux procedures (ARPs) are performed at freestanding children's hospitals in the United States.

Methods: We conducted an online survey of pediatric surgeons working in Child Health Corporation of America (CHCA) member hospitals in which we examined decision making for ARPs.

Results: Thirty-six percent (n = 121) of contacted surgeons responded. Eighty percent reported requiring preoperative upper gastrointestinal series before ARPs, and 13% require a pH probe study. Although surgeons ranked their own opinion as the most important in preoperative decision making, parents and referring physicians played significant roles in hypothetical scenarios. In children with negative/equivocal objective studies, more than half of surgeons reported offering ARP when the referring specialist felt that ARP was indicated. Despite equivocal studies, 20% of the surgeons reported offering ARP when the parents were convinced that ARP would help. In a patient with both a positive pH probe and upper gastrointestinal series, 46% of surgeons reported declining ARP if parents were hesitant.

Conclusions: These data suggest that a surgeon's final decision to perform ARP may be just as influenced by nonobjective factors, such as referring physician and parental opinions, as it is by objective studies. Our survey reinforces the need for further examination of specific factors in preoperative decision making for ARPs in the pediatric population.

MeSH terms

  • Attitude of Health Personnel
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Decision Making
  • Female
  • Fundoplication / trends*
  • Gastroesophageal Reflux / diagnosis*
  • Gastroesophageal Reflux / surgery*
  • Hospitals, Pediatric
  • Humans
  • Infant
  • Infant, Newborn
  • Male
  • Pediatrics / standards
  • Pediatrics / trends
  • Practice Patterns, Physicians' / trends*
  • Preoperative Care / methods
  • Surveys and Questionnaires
  • Treatment Outcome
  • United States