Anti-reflux surgery for the neonatal intensive care-dependent infant.
Barnes N., Robertson N., Lakhoo K.
AIM: The benefit of anti-reflux surgery for gastro-oesophageal reflux (GOR) in early infancy is uncertain. The aim of this study was to assess the value of Nissen fundoplication in a group of infants with severe GOR. METHODS: 10 infants underwent Nissen fundoplication for gastro-oesophageal reflux following a failure of medical management. All had suffered life-threatening respiratory episodes as a consequence of gastro-oesophageal reflux, and were neonatal intensive care-dependent. Median (range) birth weight was 1.26 kg (0.48-3.8 kg), gestation 30 weeks (25-38 weeks); at surgery, weight was 3.25 kg (2.5-6.1 kg) at a corrected age of 11.5 weeks (term-22) weeks. For each infant, the success of enteral feeding and the level of support required pre- and post-operatively was compared, and where appropriate, the facilitation of palliative feeding was assessed. Median follow-up was 14 (3-36) months. RESULTS: No infant suffered intra-operative morbidity or mortality. One infant died within 1 month of surgery from a collapse unrelated to surgery. Eight of nine surviving infants were discharged from intensive care following extubation and the establishment of enteral feeding. One patient died of severe bronchopulmonary dysplasia 3 months post-surgery. One infant developed a gastrostomy site infection, and two required gastrostomy tube replacement within 6 months of surgery. All were thriving at follow-up. Two infants with a congenital myopathy died as a result of their muscle disease at 9 and 11 months post-operatively. CONCLUSIONS: Nissen fundoplication is a feasible, effective and safe operation in severe gastro-oesophageal reflux unresponsive to medical treatment in term and pre-term infants. It has an additional important role in facilitating safe palliative enteral feeding in infants with a diagnosis incompatible with survival into adulthood.