Categorization and repair of recurrent and acquired tracheoesophageal fistulae occurring after esophageal atresia repair.
PURPOSE The Foker process (FP) uses tension-induced growth for primary esophageal reconstruction in patients with long gap esophageal atresia (LGEA). It has been less well described in LGEA patients who have undergone prior esophageal reconstruction attempts. METHODS All cases of LGEA treated at our institution from January 2005 to April 2014 were retrospectively reviewed. Patients who initially had esophageal surgery elsewhere were considered secondary FP cases. Demographics, esophageal evaluations, and complications were collected. Median time to esophageal anastomosis and full oral nutrition was estimated using the Kaplan-Meier method. Multivariate Cox-proportional hazards regression identified potential risk factors. RESULTS Fifty-two patients were identified, including 27 primary versus 25 secondary FP patients. Median time to anastomosis was 14 days for primary and 35 days for secondary cases (p<0.001). Secondary cases (p=0.013) and number of thoracotomies (p<0.001) were identified as significant predictors for achieving anastomosis and the development of a leak. Predictors of progression to full oral feeding were primary FP cases (O.R.=17.0, 95% CI: 2.8-102, p<0.001) and patients with longer follow-up (O.R.=1.06/month, 95% CI: 1.01-1.11, p=0.005). CONCLUSIONS The FP has been successful in repairing infants with primary LGEA, but the secondary LGEA patients proved to be more challenging to achieve a primary esophageal anastomosis. Early referral to a multidisciplinary esophageal center and a flexible approach to establish continuity in secondary patients is recommended. Given their complexity, larger studies are needed to evaluate long-term outcomes and discern optimal strategies for reconstruction.