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Original Article
July 1999

Does the Presence of a Tracheoesophageal Fistula Predict the Outcome of Laryngeal Cleft Repair?

Author Affiliations

From the Department of Otolaryngology/ Bronchoesophagology, Rush-Presbyterian-St Luke's Medical Center, Chicago, and Lutheran General Children's Hospital, Park Ridge, Ill (Dr Walner); and Department of Otolaryngology and Maxillofacial Surgery, Children's Hospital Medical Center, Cincinnati, Ohio (Drs Walner, Stern, Cotton, and Myer and Mr Collins).

Arch Otolaryngol Head Neck Surg. 1999;125(7):782-784. doi:10.1001/archotol.125.7.782

Objective  To determine if the presence of a tracheoesophageal fistula (TEF) alters outcome following laryngeal cleft repair.

Design  A retrospective review of patients diagnosed and treated for laryngeal clefts, with a minimum follow-up period of 1 year.

Setting  An academic tertiary care children's hospital.

Patients  Twenty-five pediatric patients diagnosed and surgically treated for laryngeal cleft.

Main Outcome Measures  Each chart was reviewed to determine if patients with a laryngeal cleft had been diagnosed with TEF and had undergone a surgical TEF repair procedure. The success of the surgery was evaluated based on the resolution of symptoms and the endoscopic evaluation of the repair site.

Results  Twenty-five patients were reviewed for study purposes. Fourteen had a history of TEF repair and 11, no history of TEF. All 25 patients underwent surgical repair of the laryngeal cleft. Twelve of the 14 patients with a history of TEF repair experienced a breakdown of the laryngeal cleft repair. Only 1 of the 11 patients with no history of TEF experienced such a breakdown. In 8 of 9 patients with a laryngotracheoesophageal type I cleft, surgical repair was not successful.

Conclusions  In our series, patients with laryngeal clefts who also had a history of TEF had a much higher incidence of breakdown of cleft repair compared with patients with no history of TEF. This finding is not conclusive and requires further investigation. The failure of cleft repair correlated with the severity of the cleft. The importance of these associations may lead to enhanced surgical planning and realistic preoperative family expectations.