Tracheoesophageal fistula and associated congenital heart disease: implications for anesthetic management and survival


Laura K. Diaz, Assistant Professor of Anesthesiology, Baylor College of Medicine, 6621 Fannin St, WT 19345 H, Houston, TX 77030, USA (email:


Background : Infants with tracheoesophageal fistula (TEF) and/or esophageal atresia (EA) frequently have other associated congenital anomalies which can have a significant impact on their anesthetic care and survival to discharge.

Methods : A medical record review and retrospective data analysis were performed in a university affiliated children's hospital of all infants undergoing TEF/EA repair between January 1998 and July 2004. The incidence of intraoperative complications during the TEF repair and overall survival to hospital discharge was compared in two groups of infants: 26 patients with TEF/EA and coexisting congenital heart disease (CHD), and 27 patients with TEF/EA and no CHD.

Results : The overall incidence of intraoperative critical events during repair of TEF/EA was significantly higher in infants with associated cardiac pathology (P = 0.003). Six of 53 infants died during hospitalization (overall mortality, 11.3%) and all had associated cardiac pathology. In comparison with nonductal-dependent lesions, the presence of a ductal-dependent cardiac lesion appeared to significantly increase patient mortality (57% vs. 10%, P = 0.028).

Conclusions : Low birth weight (<1500 g) and associated cardiac pathology were found to be independent predictors of mortality in infants undergoing surgery for TEF/EA repair. The presence of a ductal-dependent cardiac lesion further increased the risk of morbidity and mortality, in addition to necessitating special anesthesia considerations.