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Oesophageal atresia: caudo-thoracic epidural anaesthesia reduces the need for post-operative ventilatory support


The mortality of neonates with oesophageal atresia in the Third World remains high because of delays in presentation and diagnosis. Lack of appropriate intensive care facilities is a further contributing factor. Caudothoracic epidural anaesthesia was used during surgical repair of oesophageal atresia in 35 patients in an attempt to minimise the need for post-operative ventionally support. This group was compared with 36 patients whose surgery was performed under general anaesthesia. The age at the time of referral, sex ratio, and weight were comparable in both groups. Using the Waterson classification, a greater number of poorer prognostic patients were seen in the epidural group (P <0.02). In all Waterson risk categories fewer patients required ventionally support post-operatively, which was statistically significant (P <0.01) when all categories were combined. We are encouraged by our results and believe this technique has a rôle in the management of neonates undergoing major surgery, both where neonatal intensive care exist or is deficient as in many parts of the Third World.


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Bösenberg, A.T., Hadley, G.P. & Wiersma, R. Oesophageal atresia: caudo-thoracic epidural anaesthesia reduces the need for post-operative ventilatory support. Pediatr Surg Int 7, 289–291 (1992).

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Key words

  • Oesophageal atresia
  • Tracheo-oesophageal fistula
  • Ventilation
  • Anaesthetic technique
  • Epidural, caudal