Long-term outcomes following H-type tracheoesophageal fistula repair in infants

Pediatr Surg Int. 2017 Feb;33(2):187-190. doi: 10.1007/s00383-016-4012-0. Epub 2016 Nov 28.


Purpose: To evaluate outcomes following repair of H-type tracheoesophageal fistula (TEF).

Methods: Retrospective chart review of infants with H-type TEF treated at our institution between 2000 and 2014. Patient demographics, surgical management, and postoperative function were evaluated.

Results: Of the 268 patients with esophageal atresia/TEF treated at our center, 16 (6%) had an H-type TEF (10 males). Thirteen (81%) had associated anomalies. All patients were symptomatic: choking and sputtering were the most common presentation (n = 10, 63%). Diagnosis Age at diagnosis was 8 days (1 day-34 months). All patients were diagnosed based on a single esophagogram. Prior to surgery, 12 (75%) patients underwent bronchoscopy and 11 underwent cannulation of the TEF tract. Surgery All patients underwent open repair. One was started thoracoscopically but converted to open due to esophageal sero-muscular injury. Repair was achieved in all patients via a transcervical approach (right-sided incision in 15). One patient had an unsuccessful prior attempt at repair using tissue glue. Following TEF division, 11 patients had tissue interposition grafts placed (9 muscle, 2 fat). Postoperative course Eight (50%) patients had postoperative vocal cord paresis (6 right-sided, 2 bilateral). A patient developed recurrent TEF 78 days postoperatively that was subsequently repaired. Follow-up At 41 months (8-143), there were no mortalities, all patients with vocal cord paresis were asymptomatic despite the fact that only 3 of 8 (38%) regained function, and nine (56%) patients had gastro-esophageal reflux requiring treatment.

Conclusions: This large, single-center series demonstrates that H-type TEF can be diagnosed with esophagogram at an early age. Postoperative recurrent laryngeal nerve paresis and gastro-esophageal reflux disease are common following repair. Although most patients with vocal cord paresis eventually become asymptomatic, two-thirds do not regain vocal cord function. This reinforces the importance of routine examination of vocal cord movement following H-type TEF repair.

Keywords: Esophageal atresia; Esophagogram; Isolated fistula; Laryngeal nerve paresis; N-type.

MeSH terms

  • Child, Preschool
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Infant
  • Infant, Newborn
  • Male
  • Postoperative Period
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Time
  • Tracheoesophageal Fistula / surgery*
  • Treatment Outcome