Surgical Management of Acute Life-Threatening Events Affecting Esophageal Atresia and/or Tracheoesophageal Fistula Patients


      • What is currently known about this topic?
      Tracheomalacia is associated with ALTEs in EA/TEF patients. Surgical procedures reduce the short-term recurrence of ALTEs.
      • 2.
        What new information is contained in this article?
      ALTE incidence is 22.2% and they mostly occur before age 1-year. ALTEs are associated with low BW, low GA, and esophageal strictures. The recurrence of long-term ALTEs after esophageal dilatation, fundoplication, and airway pexy are described.



      Following surgical correction, many patients with esophageal atresia with or without tracheoesophageal fistula (EA/TEF) present to the emergency department (ED) with acute airway complications. We sought to determine the incidence and risk factors for severe acute life-threatening events (ALTEs) in pediatric patients with repaired congenital EA/TEF and the outcomes of operative interventions.


      A retrospective cohort chart review was performed on patients with EA/TEF with surgical repair and follow-up at a single centre from 2000 to 2018. Primary outcomes included 5-year ED visits and/or hospitalizations for ALTEs. Demographic, operative, and outcome data were collected. Chi-square tests and univariate analyses were performed.


      In total, 266 EA/TEF patients met inclusion criteria. Of these, 59 (22.2%) had experienced ALTEs. Patients with low birth weight, low gestational age, documented tracheomalacia, and clinically significant esophageal strictures were more likely to experience ALTEs (p < 0.05). ALTEs occurred prior to 1 year of age in 76.3% (45/59) of patients with a median age at presentation of 8 months (range 0-51 months). Recurrence of ALTEs after esophageal dilatation was 45.5% (10/22), mostly due to stricture recurrence. Patients experiencing ALTEs received anti-reflux procedures (8/59, 13.6%), airway pexy procedures (7/59, 11.9%), or both (5/59, 8.5%) within a median age of 6 months of life. The resolution and recurrence of ALTEs after operative interventions are described.


      Significant respiratory morbidity is common among patients with EA/TEF. Understanding the multifactorial etiology and operative management of ALTEs have an important role in their resolution.


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