- Risk factor analysis of recent anastomotic fistula
The occurrence of anastomotic fistula after first-stage oesophagostomy in children with congenital EA is still a serious complication that troubles surgeons and has an important influence on the prognosis and quality of life of children. The occurrence of anastomotic fistula is mainly related to anastomotic blood supply, anastomotic tension and other factors[9,10]. The incidence of anastomotic fistula after end-to-end oesophagostomy is reported to be approximately 8-12% in adults, and the incidence of anastomotic fistula after EA is approximately 20%. This may be related to the large anastomotic tension and poor anastomotic blood supply caused by oesophageal defects. In this study, univariate analysis found that albumin, defect length and birth weight may be related to the occurrence of anastomotic fistula. Multivariate logistic regression analysis found that long gap defects and low birth weight were high risk factors for anastomotic fistula.
Preoperative low protein may lead to postoperative anastomotic oedema patients, which increases anastomotic tension and leads to poor local healing [12, 13]. However, in multiple factor analysis, albumin levels were not included in the regression equation. This may be because, in this study, the number of patients with low albumin (albumin < 28 g/L) was less relevant, further expanding the sample size to find the best values for a more suitable cut-off value to evaluate the relationship between albumin levels and anastomotic fistula.
The defect length is one of the important indexes for the preoperative evaluation of operation difficulty in children with EA. In this study, the mean defect length was 1.53±0.96 cm, 1.91±1.01 cm in children with anastomotic fistula, and 1.39±0.91 cm in children without anastomotic fistula, showing statistically significant differences. There were 14 patients with long gap EA, and the possibility of anastomotic fistula was 4.9 times that of non-long-gap EA. Long defects are an independent risk factor for anastomotic fistula. Children with an intraoperative defect length > 3 cm were more prone to anastomotic fistula 7 to 10 days after surgery. Four cases were excluded from this study due to intrathoracic extension and delayed anastomosis of long gap EAs. fourteen cases of long gap EAs appeared among 8 cases of severe anastomotic fistula. We believe that the use of long gap defects to extend the anastomosis may be a better choice.
Birth weight reflects the developmental level of children in utero, and a low birth weight is often associated with a history of premature birth and foetal distress . Children with a low birth weight may have more oesophageal defects due to the short duration of natural extension of the oesophagus in utero, and these defects may be accompanied by poorer peripheral circulation and lower cardiac output , which may lead to poor local blood supply at the anastomosis. The counting data showed that 8 of 32 children with a low birth weight had heart malformations, while only 6 of 75 children with a normal weight had heart malformations. This study found that the risk of anastomotic fistula was 2.7 times higher in children with a low birth weight than in children with a normal weight.
- Risk factor analysis of long-term anastomotic stenosis
In this study, the probability of anastomotic stenosis was 52.3%, and the risk of anastomotic stenosis factors, including anastomotic fistula, long defects, severe gastroesophageal reflux and eosinophilic oesophagitis  , may cause inflammation of the anastomotic fistula after conservative treatment as well as related scar factors. Anastomotic fistula was one of the most relevant factors, OR = 7.506, but the length of the defect was not included in the regression equation. Univariate analysis revealed that the surgical method, gestational age, preoperative neutrophil count, and PNI may also be related factors. In multivariate analysis, thoracoscopic surgery, anastomotic fistula, and low nutritional status (PNI ≤54) were high risk factors for anastomotic stenosis. The incidence of anastomotic stenosis after thoracoscopic surgery was 32/49, which was significantly higher than that after open surgery (24/58). Open surgery may provide better oesophageal mucosal alignment and firmer end-to-end anastomosis. Thoracoscopic oesophageal anastomosis is still under development, and it is believed that the incidence of anastomotic stenosis in endoscopic surgery will decrease with the maturity of endoscopic technology in the future. According to the results of this study, thoracoscopic surgery is still considered to increase the risk of anastomotic stenosis.
Most anastomotic fistulas can be cured by conservative treatment, including total parenteral nutrition support or post-pyloric enteral nutrition support, pleural drainage and adequate antibiotic use [19,20]. Some scholars advocate early operations to close the fistula in order to avoid severe pulmonary infection and empyema [21,22]. Anastomotic fistula leads to severe anastomotic inflammation. Although conservative treatment is successful, it is still inevitable that the incidence of anastomotic stenosis will increase or even develop into refractory anastomotic stenosis due to scarring .
At present, there are few studies on nutritional assessment indicators for neonates, and the PNI is a commonly used nutritional assessment indicator for gastrointestinal tumours in adults . Univariate analysis found that the preoperative difference in PNI values between the two groups was statistically significant. At present, there is no clear numerical classification of neonatal nutritional risk with the PNI. By calculating the Youden index, we obtained the optimal truncation value of the PNI value in this sample to be 54. Based on this, we conducted a multifactor analysis and found that the risk of anastomotic stenosis in children in the low PNI group (PNI ≤54) was 5.7 times higher than that in the high PNI group. For children with preoperative nutritional risk, perioperative nutritional support may help reduce the risk of long-term anastomotic stenosis, which needs to be further confirmed by future prospective studies.