Multidisciplinary care of children with repaired esophageal atresia and tracheoesophageal fistula

Pediatr Pulmonol. 2016 Jun;51(6):576-81. doi: 10.1002/ppul.23330. Epub 2015 Sep 30.


Objectives: Children with congenital esophageal atresia with tracheoesophageal fistula (TEF) require complex medical and surgical care, but few guidelines exist to guide the long term care of this population. The purpose of this study is to describe the findings and initial management of a comprehensive aerodigestive team in order to understand the ongoing needs of children with repaired TEF.

Methods: A retrospective chart review was performed on children with TEF who were seen in the multidisciplinary Aerodigestive Clinic at Children's Hospital Colorado. Diagnostic studies were ordered based on physician discretion.

Results: Twenty-nine children with TEF were evaluated (mean age 3.8 years) between 2010 and 2014. All children had symptoms attributed to breathing, swallowing, and digestive difficulties. Less than half of the children had seen a pulmonary or gastrointestinal specialist in the past year. Tracheomalacia was diagnosed in all children who had a bronchoscopy (23/23), and the presence of dysphagia was correlated with severe tracheomalacia. 7/25 children who had a swallow study had aspiration. 7/25 children had a diagnosis of active reflux despite current management. Four patients were diagnosed with bronchiectasis as a result of the multidisciplinary evaluation.

Conclusion: Although all children had persistent aerodigestive symptoms, over 50% had not been seen by an appropriate subspecialist in the year prior to the clinic visit. The multidisciplinary evaluation resulted in new diagnoses of bronchiectasis and active reflux, which can both lead to long-term morbidity and mortality. Children with TEF require evaluation by multiple subspecialists to manage not only current symptoms but also long term risks. Ongoing care should be guided by protocols based on known risks. Pediatr Pulmonol. 2016;51:576-581. © 2015 Wiley Periodicals, Inc.

Keywords: aerodigestive; bronchiectasis; pediatric.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Bronchiectasis
  • Bronchoscopy / methods
  • Child
  • Child, Preschool
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Deglutition Disorders / therapy*
  • Esophageal Atresia / rehabilitation*
  • Esophageal Atresia / surgery
  • Esophageal Atresia / therapy
  • Female
  • Gastroesophageal Reflux / diagnosis
  • Gastroesophageal Reflux / therapy*
  • Humans
  • Infant
  • Infant, Newborn
  • Long-Term Care
  • Male
  • Referral and Consultation / statistics & numerical data*
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Tracheoesophageal Fistula / rehabilitation*
  • Tracheoesophageal Fistula / surgery
  • Tracheoesophageal Fistula / therapy