Background/purpose: This study evaluated compliance with a multi-institutional quality improvement management protocol for Type-C esophageal atresia with distal tracheoesophageal fistula (EA/TEF).
Methods: Compliance and outcomes before and after implementation of a perioperative protocol bundle for infants undergoing Type-C EA/TEF repair were compared across 11 children's hospitals from 1/2016-1/2019. Bundle components included elimination of prosthetic material between tracheal and esophageal suture lines during repair, not leaving a transanastomotic tube at the conclusion of repair (NO-TUBE), obtaining an esophagram by postoperative-day-5, and discontinuing prophylactic antibiotics 24 h postoperatively.
Results: One-hundred seventy patients were included, 40% pre-protocol and 60% post-protocol. Bundle compliance increased 2.5-fold pre- to post-protocol from 17.6% to 44.1% (p < 0.001). After stratifying by institutional compliance with all bundle components, 43.5% of patients were treated at low-compliance centers (<20%), 43% at medium-compliance centers (20-80%), and 13.5% at high-compliance centers (>80%). Rates of esophageal leak, anastomotic stricture, and time to full feeds did not differ between pre- and post-protocol cohorts, though there was an inverse correlation between NO-TUBE compliance and stricture rate over time (ρ = -0.75, p = 0.029).
Conclusions: Compliance with our multi-institutional management protocol increased 2.5-fold over the study period without compromising safety or time to feeds and does not support the use of transanastomotic tubes.
Level of evidence: Level II.
Type of study: Treatment Study.
Keywords: Esophageal atresia; Quality improvement; Tracheoesophageal fistula.
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