Current status of surgical management of gastroesophageal reflux in children

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Abstract

Purpose of review

Surgical therapy for gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD) is controversial with considerable debate ranging from the indications for antireflux surgery to surgical technique. This article will attempt to clarify these issues with the most up-to-date information available on the prevalence, pathophysiology, diagnosis, and surgical treatment of GERD in children. Although laparoscopic Nissen fundoplication (LNF) has become the most popular operation performed for pathologic reflux, its superiority over both open surgery and other types of fundoplication is not well established.

Recent findings

Large retrospective studies suggest LNF has a lower complication rate than open surgery. However, three prospective randomized controlled trials have been published recently which cast doubt on the superiority of LNF and suggest that LNF may have a higher failure rate compared to open fundoplication. Antireflux surgery has higher morbidity and failure rates in infants and in children with neurologic impairment.

Summary

Based on the best available evidence, LNF may be less morbid, but have a higher rate of failure than open surgery. Pediatric surgeons should be mindful of the risks and benefits of both approaches to best counsel their patients. Larger prospective randomized controlled trials are needed to determine the best treatments for pediatric GERD.

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