Background The indications of esophageal replacement (ER) in pediatric patients include long gap esophageal atresia (LGEA), intractable post-corrosive esophageal strictures (PCES), and some rare esophageal diseases. Various conduits and procedures are currently used worldwide with a lack of consensus regarding the ideal substitute to replace the esophagus replacement. The short-term outcomes of these advanced procedures are well known; there are few data available describing long-term functional outcomes of these patients with long life expectancy. Objectives The objective of this study is to investigate the long-term functional outcomes of the most widely used techniques for ER in pediatric patients based on a comprehensive literature search covering the last 10 years. Methods Eligible were all clinical studies reporting outcomes after esophagectomy in pediatric patients, which contained information on at least 3 years of follow-up after the operation. The review was conducted in accordance with the Preferred Reporting Items for Systematic Reviews and Meta-Analyses (PRISMA) guidelines. A systematic web-based search using MEDLINE, the Cochrane Library and EMBASE databases was performed, reviewing all medical literature published between January 2006 and December 2015. Results The scientific quality of the data was generally poor, converging toward only 14 full-text articles for the final analysis. The stomach was the preferred organ for esophageal replacement, where the tubulization of the stomach resulted in significant gastroesophageal reflux. Dysphagia symptoms were more seldom reported, but several authors presented growing figures with the length of follow-up. Dumping syndrome and delayed gastric emptying were only scarcely reported upon. Following colonic graft, chronic gastrocolic reflux affects these patients, in the range of 35–70.8%, while 4 studies reported any dysphagia from 2.7% to 50% of the children. Only one study reported the outcome of the use of a long jejunal segment, where presence of symptoms of functional obstruction was mentioned in 46% of cases. Very few if any data were available on a structured assessment of postprandial dumping and disturbed bowel functions. Conclusions Available data in pediatric patients, on the long-term functional outcomes after esophageal replacement with a gastric tube, colonic graft or a long jejunal segment, are of poor scientific quality. Although symptoms are frequently reported currently no conclusions can be drawn regarding potential advantages of one graft over another. Type of study Treatment study, systematic review. Level of evidence IV.
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