Objective: To study long-term (10–15 years) efficacy of antireflux surgery (ARS) in a prospectively followed cohort of pediatric patients with gastroesophageal reflux disease, using 24-hour pH monitoring and reflux-specific questionnaires.
Background: Studies on short-term outcome of ARS in pediatric patients with gastroesophageal reflux disease have shown good to excellent results; however, long-term follow-up studies are scarce, retrospective, and have not used objective measurements.
Methods: Between 1993 and 1998, a cohort of 57 pediatric patients (ages 1 month to 18 years; 46% with neurological impairment) underwent laparoscopic anterior partial fundoplication (Thal). Preoperatively and postoperatively (at 3–4 months and at 1–5 and 10–15 years), reflux-specific questionnaires were filled out, and 24-hour pH monitoring was performed.
Results: At 3 to 4 months, at 1 to 5 years, and at 10 to 15 years after ARS, 81%, 80%, and 73% of patients, respectively, were completely free of reflux symptoms. Disease-free survival analysis, however, demonstrated that only 57% of patients were symptom free at 10 to 15 years after ARS. Total acid exposure time significantly decreased from 13.4% before ARS to 0.7% (P < 0.001) at 3 to 4 months after ARS; however, at 3 to 4 months after ARS, pH monitoring was still pathological in 18% of patients. At 10 to 15 years after ARS, the number of patients with pathological reflux had even significantly increased to 43% (P = 0.008). No significant differences were found comparing neurologically impaired and normally developed patients.
Conclusions: As gastroesophageal reflux persists or recurs in 43% of children 10 to 15 years after laparoscopic Thal fundoplication, it is crucial to implement routine long-term follow-up after ARS in pediatric patients with gastroesophageal reflux disease.