Long-term results of esophageal atresia: Helsinki experience and review of literature

Pediatr Surg Int. 2011 Nov;27(11):1141-9. doi: 10.1007/s00383-011-2980-7. Epub 2011 Sep 30.


Esophageal atresia (EA) affects one in 2,840 newborns, and over half have associated anomalies that typically affect the midline. After EA repair in infancy, gastroesophageal reflux (GER) and esophageal dysmotility and respiratory problems are common. Significant esophageal morbidity associated with EA extends into adulthood. Surgical complications, increasing age, and impaired esophageal motility predict the development of epithelial metaplasia after repair of EA. To date, worldwide, six cases of esophageal cancer have been reported in young adults treated for EA. According to our data, the statistical risk for esophageal cancer is not higher than 500-fold that of the general population. However, the overall cancer incidence among adults with repaired EA does not differ from that of the general population. Adults with repaired EA have had significantly more respiratory symptoms and infections, as well as more asthma and allergies than does the general population. Nearly half the patients have bronchial hyperresponsiveness. Thoracotomy-induced rib fusion and gastroesophageal reflux-associated columnar epithelial metaplasia are the most significant risk factors for the restrictive ventilatory defect that occurs in over half the patients. Over half the patients with repaired EA are likely to develop scoliosis. Risk for scoliosis is 13-fold after repair of EA in relation to that of the general population. Nearly half of the patients have had vertebral anomalies predominating in the cervical spine, and of these, most were vertebral fusions. The natural history of spinal deformities seems, however, rather benign, with spinal surgery rarely indicated.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Esophageal Atresia / complications*
  • Esophageal Atresia / epidemiology
  • Finland / epidemiology
  • Gastroesophageal Reflux / epidemiology
  • Gastroesophageal Reflux / etiology*
  • Humans
  • Morbidity / trends
  • Survival Rate / trends
  • Time Factors
  • Tracheoesophageal Fistula / epidemiology
  • Tracheoesophageal Fistula / etiology*