The distal pouch in esophageal atresia - To dissect or not to dissect, that is the question

U. Farkash, L. Lazar, I. Erez, M. Gutermacher, E. Freud*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Long-gap esophageal atresia remains a difficult problem for the pediatric surgeon and reconstruction using the native esophagus is considered to be superior to any interposition procedure. Because of esophageal segmental blood supply and vascular vulnerability of the distal esophageal pouch in the short term and its motility disorder in the long term, surgeons are reluctant to perform extensive esophageal dissection. However, ascending and descending branches of esophageal vessels converge along the anterolateral and posterolateral aspects of the esophagus. This arrangement allows for dissection and mobilization of the distal pouch without necessarily causing vascular impairment. Extensive dissection of the distal pouch was advocated by Robert Gross over fifty years ago. More recently, circular myotomy of the distal pouch has been performed. However, manometric studies showed that prior to surgical repair, peristalsis of the upper and lower esophageal pouch was synchronized, while after surgery this coordination was clearly defective. Furthermore, in the adria-mycin-induced rat model, inherent abnormalities in the course and branching pattern of the vagus nerves in the lower esophagus have been demonstrated. Significant abnormalities of the intramural nervous components involving both the excitatory and inhibitory nerves, and elevated levels of S100 and galanin in the lower esophageal pouch could explain an inborn motility disorder. The selective injury of minor vagal branches in experimental animals also alters esophageal peristalsis. In conclusion, given that the native esophagus is still considered the best alternative for reconstruction of esophageal atresia, when indicated, gentle but extensive dissection of the lower esophageal pouch seems to be preferable, keeping in mind the possibility of vascular compromise and the inevitability of motility disfunction.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)19-23
Number of pages5
JournalEuropean Journal of Pediatric Surgery
Issue number1
StatePublished - 2002
Externally publishedYes


  • Distal esophageal pouch
  • Esophageal atresia
  • Esophageal blood supply
  • Esophageal motility


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