Feasibility of laparoscopic Nissen fundoplication after pediatric lung or heart-lung transplantation: Should this be the standard?

Document Type

Journal Article

Publication Date



Surgical Endoscopy








GORD/GERD (gastro-oesophageal reflux disease); Paediatrics; Pulmonary (lungs); Transplantation


Background: Five-year graft survival in the pediatric lung transplant (LTxp) population is less than 50%, with obliterative bronchiolitis (OB) the leading cause of death at 1, 3, and 5 years post-transplant. Bronchiolitis obliterans syndrome (BOS), defined using spirometry values, is the clinical surrogate for the histological diagnosis of obliterative bronchiolitis. Surgical correction of documented gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD) has been proposed as a means to potentially delay the onset of BOS and prolong allograft survival in adults before or after lung transplantation but only one such study exists in children. We have examined the safety and possible benefits of laparoscopic antireflux surgery in pediatric patients following lung (LTxp) and heart-lung transplantation (HLTxp). Methods: An Institutional Review Board (IRB)-approved retrospective chart review was performed to evaluate the outcomes and complications of laparoscopic antireflux surgery in pediatric lung and heart-lung transplant patients. Spirometry data were collected for BOS staging using BOS criteria for children. Results: Twenty-five lung and heart-lung transplants were performed between January 2003 and July 2009. Eleven transplant recipients, including six double-lung and five heart-lung (HLTxp), with a median age of 11.7 years (range 5.1-18.4 years), underwent a total of 12 laparoscopic Nissen fundoplications at a median of 427 days after transplant (range 51-2310 days). GERD was determined based upon clinical impression, pH probe study, gastric emptying study, and/or esophagram in all patients. Three patients already had a gastrostomy tube in place and two had one placed at the time of fundoplication. There were no conversions to open surgery, 30-day readmissions, or 30-day mortalities. Complications included one exploratory laparoscopy for free air 6 days after laparoscopic Nissen fundoplication for a gastric perforation that had spontaneously sealed. Another patient required a revision laparoscopic Nissen 822 days following the initial fundoplication for a paraesophageal hernia and recurrent GERD. The average length of hospital stay was 4.4 ± 1.7 days. Nine of the 12 fundoplications were performed in patients with baseline spirometry values prior to fundoplication and who could also complete spirometry reliably. One of these nine operations was associated with improvement in BOS stage 6 months after fundoplication; seven were associated with no change in BOS stage; and one was associated with a decline in BOS stage. Conclusion: It is feasible to perform laparoscopic Nissen fundoplication in pediatric lung and heart-lung transplant recipients without mortality or significant morbidity for the treatment of GERD. The real effect on pulmonary function cannot be assessed due to our small sample size and lack of reproducible spirometry in our younger patients. Additional studies are needed to elucidate the relationship between antireflux surgery and the potential for improving pulmonary allograft function and survival in children which has been previously observed in adult patients. © 2010 Springer Science+Business Media, LLC.

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