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J Pediatr Surg. 1999 Sep;34(9):1359-63.

Gastroesophageal reflux after repair of atrioventricular septal defect in infants with trisomy 21: a comparison of medical and surgical therapy.

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Division of Cardiothoracic Surgery, Valley Children's Hospital, Fresno, CA, USA.



Gastroesophageal reflux and dysmotility are common in children with trisomy 21. Children with trisomy 21 and congenital heart disease are at increased risk for complications of gastroesophageal reflux even after repair of their cardiac abnormalities. The optimal management of reflux in these patients is not known.


The authors studied 24 consecutive infants (5.3+/-3.1 months) with trisomy 21 and atrioventricular septal defect who had symptoms or signs of gastroesophageal reflux and a positive esophageal pH study finding early after repair of their cardiac anomaly. Ten patients were given standardized medical therapy with upright positioning during and after feedings, thickening of feedings, metoclopramide, and an H2-receptor antagonist. The other 14 underwent primary surgical management consisting of Nissen fundoplication through a minilaparotomy.


All 10 medically treated patients required readmission within 2 weeks for complications related to reflux, including aspiration or pneumonia (n = 6), persistent failure to thrive (n = 2), and frequent apneic episodes (n = 2). No surgically treated patients had reflux-related complications requiring readmission. The total duration of hospitalization in the medically treated patients, including the initial hospitalization and the rehospitalization, was significantly longer than in patients who underwent fundoplication (35.8+/-9.8 v. 10.4+/-2.2 days, P<.001). At follow-up (24 to 56 months), all patients were alive except for 1 medically treated patient who died of aspiration pneumonia 28 days after readmission. Two medically treated patients required a Nissen, and 3 patients in the surgical group underwent redo fundoplication, all within 1 year. Three other patients in the medically treated group required a total of 8 hospitalizations for complications of reflux. No patient in either group required placement of a gastrostomy tube. Weight percentile for age was higher in surgical than medical patients.


Infants with trisomy 21 and atrioventricular septal defect who undergo fundoplication are less likely to experience major complications of reflux early after cardiac surgery than those treated with a medical regimen of upright posture, thickened feedings, metoclopramide, and H2-receptor blockade.

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