Clinical outcomes following implementation of a management bundle for esophageal atresia with distal tracheoesophageal fistula

J Pediatr Surg. 2021 Jan;56(1):47-54. doi: 10.1016/j.jpedsurg.2020.09.049. Epub 2020 Oct 6.


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.

MeSH terms

  • Child
  • Esophageal Atresia* / complications
  • Esophageal Atresia* / surgery
  • Humans
  • Infant
  • Postoperative Complications / epidemiology
  • Postoperative Complications / prevention & control
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Tracheoesophageal Fistula* / complications
  • Tracheoesophageal Fistula* / surgery
  • Treatment Outcome