Treatment of pulmonary manifestations of gastroesophageal reflux in children two years of age or less

John A. St. Cyr, T. Bruce Ferrara, Theodore Thompson, Dana Johnson, John E. Foker

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Apnea and worsening bronchopulmonary dysplasia as well as recurrent aspiration pneumonia have been found to be consequences of gastroesophageal reflux in infants and young children. Antireflux procedures are effective in preventing gastroesophageal reflux; however, the effect of this operation on the course of these respiratory problems in very young patients is not known. We reviewed the results in 51 patients 2 years of age or less who underwent an antireflux fundoplication for pulmonary problems attributable to severe gastroesophageal reflux unresponsive to medical treatment. Twenty-eight patients had recurrent episodes of aspiration pneumonia, 14 had nonimproving or worsening bronchopulmonary dysplasia, and 9 had unexplained apneic episodes. Seventy-three percent of these patients had coexisting congenital anomalies or acquired problems. No operative deaths and no major surgical complications occurred. There were eight late deaths occurring between 1 and 25 months postoperatively: three were due to associated congenital anomalies or acquired problems, three to sepsis, and two to sudden infant death syndrome. Of the 43 surviving children, 91 percent with preoperative recurrent aspiration pneumonia had no additional episodes after Nissen procedure. Eighty-eight percent of the infants with unexplained apneic episodes showed marked benefit and 83 percent of those with bronchopulmonary dysplasia had clinical improvement. There were no late problems attributed to the operation even when it was performed in preterm infants. Therefore, we recommend fundoplication for patients 2 years of age or less who have a persistent pulmonary problem attributed to gastroesophageal reflux that does not respond to medical therapy.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)400-403
Number of pages4
JournalThe American Journal of Surgery
Issue number4
StatePublished - Apr 1989


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