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J Gastrointest Surg. 2011 Oct;15(10):1872-8. doi: 10.1007/s11605-011-1644-1. Epub 2011 Jul 29.

The effects and efficacy of antireflux surgery in children with gastroesophageal reflux disease: a systematic review.

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Department of Pediatric Surgery, University Medical Center Utrecht, Utrecht, The Netherlands.



Antireflux surgery (ARS) for gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD) is one of the most frequently performed major operations in children. Many studies have described the results of ARS in children, however, with a wide difference in outcome. This study aims to systematically review the efficacy of pediatric ARS and its effects on gastroesophageal function, as measured by gastroesophageal function tests. This is the first systematic review comprising only prospective, longitudinal studies, minimizing the risk of bias.


Three electronic databases (Medline, Embase, and the Cochrane Library) were searched for prospective studies reporting on ARS in children with GERD.


In total, 17 eligible studies were identified, reporting on a total of 1,280 children. The median success rate after ARS was 86% (57-100%). The success rate in neurologically impaired children was worse in one study, but similar in another study compared to normally developed children. Different surgical techniques (total versus partial fundoplication, or laparoscopic versus open approach) showed similar reflux recurrence rates. However, less postoperative dysphagia was observed after partial fundoplication and laparoscopic ARS was associated with less pain medication and a shorter hospital stay. Complications of ARS varied from minimal postoperative complications to severe dysphagia and gas bloating. The reflux index (RI), obtained by 24-h pH monitoring (n = 8) decreased after ARS. Manometry, as done in three studies, showed no increase in lower esophageal sphincter pressure after ARS. Gastric emptying (n = 3) was reported either unchanged or accelerated after ARS. No studies reported on barium swallow x-ray, endoscopy, or multichannel intraluminal impedance monitoring before and after ARS.


ARS in children shows a good overall success rate (median 86%) in terms of complete relief of symptoms. Efficacy of ARS in neurologically impaired children may be similar to normally developed children. The outcome of ARS does not seem to be influenced by different surgical techniques, although postoperative dysphagia may occur less after partial fundoplication. However, these conclusions are bound by the lack of high-quality prospective studies on pediatric ARS. Similar studies on the effects of pediatric ARS on gastroesophageal function are also very limited. We recommend consistent use of standardized assessment tests to clarify the effects of ARS on gastroesophageal function and to identify possible risk factors for failure of ARS in children.

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