Determinants of exercise capacity in school-aged esophageal atresia patients

Pediatr Pulmonol. 2017 Sep;52(9):1198-1205. doi: 10.1002/ppul.23687. Epub 2017 Feb 28.


Background and aims: Data on long-term outcome of exercise capacity in school-aged children with esophageal atresia (EA) are scarce. We evaluated maximal exercise capacity and its relation to lung function. Moreover, we studied other possible determinants of exercise capacity and lung function.

Methods: Exercise capacity of 63 children with EA born 1999-2007 was evaluated at the age of 8 years with the Bruce-protocol. Dynamic and static lung volumes, bronchodilator response and diffusion capacity were measured. Furthermore, perinatal characteristics, hospital admissions for lower respiratory tract infections (RTIs), RTIs treated with antibiotics in the past year, symptoms of gastroesophageal reflux, weight-for-height, and sports participation were evaluated as other potential determinants.

Results: Exercise capacity was significantly below normal: mean (SD) SDS -0.91 (0.97); P < 0.001. All spirometric parameters were significantly below normal with significant reversibility of airflow obstruction in 13.5% of patients. Static lung volumes were significantly decreased (mean (SD) SDS TLChe -1.06 (1.29); P < 0.001). Diffusion capacity corrected for alveolar volume was normal (mean (SD) SDS KCO -0.12 (1.04)). Exercise capacity was positively associated with total lung capacity and negatively with SDS weight-for-height. Spirometric parameters were negatively associated with congenital cardiac malformation, duration of ventilation, and persistent respiratory morbidity.

Conclusion: Eight-year-old children with EA had reduced exercise capacity which was only associated with the reduction in TLChe and higher SDS weight-for-height. We speculate that diminished physical activity with recurrent respiratory tract infections may also play a role in reduced exercise capacity. This should be subject to further research to optimize appropriate intervention.

Keywords: congenital malformations; esophageal atresia; exercise capacity; pulmonary function testing; respiratory tract infections; school-aged children.

MeSH terms

  • Anti-Bacterial Agents / therapeutic use
  • Bronchodilator Agents / pharmacology
  • Child
  • Esophageal Atresia / complications
  • Esophageal Atresia / physiopathology*
  • Exercise Test
  • Exercise*
  • Female
  • Gastroesophageal Reflux / etiology
  • Humans
  • Lung / physiopathology
  • Male
  • Respiratory Tract Infections / drug therapy
  • Spirometry
  • Total Lung Capacity


  • Anti-Bacterial Agents
  • Bronchodilator Agents