Thoracoscopic repair of esophageal atresia and tracheoesophageal fistula in neonates, first decade's experience

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The first thoracoscopic esophageal atresia with tracheoesophageal fistula (EATEF) repair was performed in March of 2000. This report evaluates the results and evolution of the technique in a single surgeons' experience after the first decade of thoracoscopic EATEF repair. From March 2000 to September 2012, 52 consecutive patients with type 3 EATEF, and an additional nine patients with pure esophageal atresia (EA) were repaired by or under the direct supervision of a single surgeon. Patient weight ranged from 1.2 to 3.8 kg (mean 2.6 kg). Twenty-two patients had significant associated congenital anomalies. The repairs were performed using three ports. The fistula was ligated using a single endoscopic clip, and the anastomosis was performed using a single layer of interrupted sutures. A transanastomotic tube and chest drain were left in all cases. Fifty-one of the 52 procedures were completed successfully thoracoscopically. Operative times ranged from 50 to 120 minutes (average 85 minutes). There were three clinical leaks, one in an EATEF and two in patients with long-gap pure EA, all resolved with conservative therapy. Oral feedings were started on day 5 in all other patients. Twelve of 61 patients required dilations (1–9), and 18 required a Nissen fundoplication for severe reflux. One patient required a thoracoscopic aortopexy for severe tracheomalacia. All patients are currently on full oral feedings. No patient has any evidence of chest wall asymmetry, winged scapula, or clinically significant scoliosis. There have been no recurrent fistulas. Thoracoscopic EA repair has proven to be an effective and safe technique. Initial experience resulted in a higher stricture rate, but this improved with experience and changes in technique. The results are superior to that of documented open series and avoid the morbidity of an open thoracotomy.

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