Persistence of Barrett's esophagus in children after antireflux surgery: Influence on follow-up care

Henry W. Cheu, Jay L. Grosfeld, Stephen A. Heifetz, Joseph Fitzgerald, Frederick Rescorla, Karen West

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

30 Scopus citations


Adenocarcinoma arising in Barrett's esophagus has recently been described in two children aged 11 and 14 years. The long-term follow-up of Barrett's esophagus in children is not well described. We evaluated 16 cases of Barrett's esophagus in children treated at this institution during the last 16 years. Ages ranged from 1.2 to 16 years (mean, 10.3 years). There were 11 boys and 5 girls. Barrett's esophagus was documented by endoscopy in 14 instances and at autopsy in 2 patients with secretory diarrhea and tetralogy of Fallot who died of sepsis. Two children had cancer (neuroblastoma, leukemia) and died of their malignant disease. Five patients had cerebral palsy, 1 esophageal atresia, 1 Fanconi's anemia, and 5 were otherwise normal children. Six were treated medically. Eight patients underwent Nissen fundoplication for complications of gastroesophageal reflux (GER). Five patients were available for follow-up endoscopy (mean, 2 years; range, 1.1 to 5.4 years). Endoscopy was performed on a yearly basis, obtaining biopsy specimens from multiple levels of the esophagus. Four children had satisfactory clinical response to an antireflux procedure including the resolution of a stricture in one case. However, in all 5 cases persistent metaplastic epithelium was documented and showed no evidence of regression. Although there has been speculation that Barrett's esophagus in children may be more likely to revert to normal squamous epithelium than in the adult, there has been only one case of regression in 180 cases of Barrett's esophagus occurring in children described in 37 reports in the literature. These cases and our experience suggest that: (1) Barrett's esophagus is relatively common in children; (2) metaplasia almost always persists despite treatment; and (3) given the risk of carcinoma, a child with Barrett's esophagus should be followed yearly, regardless of symptoms, and endoscopic biopsy specimens should be obtained to rule out dysplasia or early malignancy.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)260-266
Number of pages7
JournalJournal of Pediatric Surgery
Issue number2
StatePublished - Feb 1992


  • Barrett's esophagus
  • esophagitis
  • gastroesophageal reflux

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Surgery

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