The evaluation of deglutition with videofluoroscopy after repair of esophageal atresia and/or tracheoesophageal fistula

J Pediatr Surg. 2015 Nov;50(11):1823-7. doi: 10.1016/j.jpedsurg.2015.07.002. Epub 2015 Jul 3.


Aim: A retrospective study was performed to evaluate the functional disorders of deglutition with videofluoroscopy (VFS), in children operated for esophageal atresia (EA) and/or tracheoesophageal fistula (TEF).

Methods: Patients with the repair of EA-TEF were evaluated in respect to the type of malformation, operative procedure, postoperative complications, deglutitive and respiratory symptoms, and gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD). The dysphagia score, VFS findings of oral, pharyngeal and esophageal phases, and penetration-aspiration scale (PAS) score were recorded in the evaluation of the deglutitive functions.

Results: Thirty-two cases with a median age of 48months (2-120months), and male to female ratio of 14:18 were included in the study. Most of the cases had Gross type C anomaly (n=26, 81.3%), and the others were type A (n=3), D (n=2) and E (n=1). The incidence of associated anomalies was 71.8%. The patients underwent primary (n=26, 81.3%) or delayed (n=6, 18.7%) anastomosis. Postoperative complications including anastomotic stricture (n=12), leak (n=2) and recurrent fistula (n=2) were managed by dilatation, conservative approach and repair of the fistula, respectively. Recurrent pneumonia (n=13), cough with liquid intake (n=10) and food impaction (n=7) were recorded in the history. Management of GERD included medical (n=11) and surgical (n=7) treatment. The median dysphagia score was 3.5 (min: 0-max: 27). The oral phase of VFS was normal in most of the cases (n=29, 90.6%). Only three had mild or moderate impairment, and none had severe. The pharyngeal phase showed no impairment in 23 of the cases (71.8%), and severe impairment was observed only in 3 of all, for the parameters of hyolaryngeal elevation and airway closure. Opposite to the first two phases of the deglutition, the esophageal phase was normal in only 2 of the cases (6.3%). Among the other 30 cases with impairment, only two had mild, and the rest had moderate to severe problems. Esophageal backflow, motility and residue were the most severely impaired parameters of this phase. The PAS evaluation revealed no penetration and aspiration in 26 of the cases (81.3%), while 1 had penetration and five had aspiration.

Conclusion: The patients with repaired EA-TEF may reveal deglutitive and respiratory symptoms in follow-up, necessitating certain investigations. The deglutition is functionally evaluated with VFS. While the disorders of oral and pharyngeal phases are less frequent and prominent, the esophageal phase reveals disorders with higher incidence and severity.

Keywords: Deglutition; Esophageal atresia; Motility; Tracheoesophageal fistula; Videofluoroscopy.

MeSH terms

  • Child
  • Child, Preschool
  • Deglutition Disorders / diagnosis
  • Deglutition*
  • Esophageal Atresia / physiopathology
  • Esophageal Atresia / surgery*
  • Female
  • Gastroesophageal Reflux / diagnosis
  • Gastroesophageal Reflux / etiology
  • Gastroesophageal Reflux / therapy
  • Humans
  • Incidence
  • Infant
  • Male
  • Postoperative Complications / diagnosis
  • Postoperative Complications / epidemiology
  • Postoperative Complications / therapy
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Tracheoesophageal Fistula / physiopathology
  • Tracheoesophageal Fistula / surgery*

Supplementary concepts

  • Esophageal atresia with or without tracheoesophageal fistula