Gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD) is a common disease in children. When drug treatment fails, laparoscopic anti-reflux surgery (LARS) is considered. Short-term follow-up studies report high success rates; however, few studies report long-term results. The aim of this study was to describe the long-term effects of LARS in pediatric patients.
A prospective, multicenter study of 25 laparoscopic fundoplication patients was performed. At 3 months and 1, 2, and 5 years postoperatively, patients and caregivers were asked to complete the gastroesophageal reflux symptom questionnaire to assess symptoms and the PedsQL™ to assess health-related quality of life (HRQoL).
Reflux symptom severity was still significantly improved 5 years after LARS compared with preoperative levels (p < 0.0001). However, 26% of patients reported moderate or severe reflux symptoms. Dysphagia was reported in 13% of patients 5 years after LARS and was more common in children with neurologic impairment and children who underwent a Nissen procedure. The increase in HRQoL 3 months postoperatively appears to decline over time: 5 years after surgery, HRQoL was lower, though not significantly, than 3 months postoperatively. HRQoL at 5 years was still higher, though also not significantly, than preoperative levels. The presence of reflux symptoms after surgery was not significantly associated with lower HRQoL.
LARS is effective for therapy-resistant GERD in children. Five years after surgery, reflux symptoms are still improved. However, we observed a decline in symptom-free patients over time. The initial increase in HRQoL shortly after LARS appears to decline over time.
Dutch national trial registry Identifier: 2934 ( www.trialregister.nl ).