Risk Factors for Anastomotic Strictures after Esophageal Atresia Repair: Prophylactic Proton Pump Inhibitors Do Not Reduce the Incidence of Strictures

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Since 2005, infants with esophageal atresia (EA) in our unit are given prophylactic proton pump inhibitors (PPI) after repair until 1 year of age. The aims of this study were to identify risk factors for anastomotic strictures (AS) and to assess the efficacy of postoperative PPI prophylaxis in reducing the incidence of AS compared with symptomatic PPI.


Patients who underwent EA repair from 1994 to 2013 in our unit were included in this retrospective observational study approved by the local ethics review board. They were divided into two subgroups; symptomatic PPI-group with EA repair from 1994 to 2004 and prophylactic PPI-group with EA repair from 2005 to 2013. Data were collected from the patient records. Potential risk factors for AS analyzed were gender, long gap EA, birth weight, premature birth (<37 gestational weeks), anastomotic tension, and anastomotic leakage. Number of dilatations until the age of 1 and 5 years were recorded. To evaluate risk factors for AS and the effect of prophylactic PPI Logistic, Cox and Poisson regression models were used. For descriptive statistics Fisher exact test and Wilcoxon rank sum test were used.


A total of 128 patients were included. Patient characteristics, surgical method, grading of anastomotic tension, complications, and survival rates did not differ significantly between the symptomatic PPI-group (n = 71) and the prophylactic PPI-group (n = 57). Comparing the symptomatic and prophylactic PPI-group, there was no significant difference in the median age at the first AS (9.3 vs 6 mo), the number of dilatations until 1 year (2 vs 2) and 5 years (5 vs 4), or the incidence of anastomotic stricture (56.5% vs 50.9%). Long gap EA, high birth weight, and anastomotic tension were found to be independent risk factors.


Surgeons should aim to perform anastomosis under less tension at EA repair. Prophylactic PPI-treatment does not appear to reduce the rate of AS. Randomized controlled trials with larger study populations are needed to further evaluate the efficacy of prophylactic PPI.

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