Histopathologic profile of esophageal atresia and tracheoesophageal fistula

  • Mubarak M. Al-Shraim
  • Ashraf H.M. Ibrahim
  • Talal A. Malki
  • Nader A. Morad
Keywords: congenital esophageal stenosis, esophageal atresia, esophageal dysmotility, histopathology


Purpose Few reports are available in the literature on the histology of the congenital atretic esophagus in humans. Histologic abnormalities  including congenital esophageal stenosis (CES) may contribute toward the abnormal esophageal motility after successful repair of esophageal atresia (EA) and tracheoesophageal fistula (TEF). The main aim of this study is to document the histopathologic profile in cases of EA.
Methods One hundred and nineteen surgical specimens were collected from 69 consecutive EA patients who underwent surgical repair at the Aseer Central Hospital, Abha, and Armed Forces Hospital Southern Region, Saudi Arabia, from May 1999 through May 2009. This included 62 cases with EA and distal TEF, five cases of pure EA, and two cases of N-type TEF. Samples from tips of the upper pouch (UP), lower pouch (LP), and mid portion of the TEF were preserved in 10% formalin, sectioned, and stained with hematoxylin and eosin.
Results The combined three elements of tracheobronchial tissue were observed in only three LP specimens. Gastrictype mucosa was seen in one UP and one LP specimen. Except for one N-type fistula, all sections showed fullthickness muscle coats. Distortion of muscles by fibrosis was most commonly seen in the UP. The muscle layer in the LP was more commonly distorted by glands with or without cartilage. Fourteen samples (10.8%) showed a histological picture consistent with CES.
Conclusion Glands in the submucosa may be abnormal innumber and type, and may extend to different esophageal  coats. Muscle distortion by fibrosis, glands, or cartilage and associated CES may contribute toward esophageal dysmotility and stricture after surgery. Cutting the TEF B3–5mm distal to its origin from the trachea is adequate histologically for primary anastomosis of the atretic esophagus. The histological changes associated with the TEF need to be revised.

Keywords: congenital esophageal stenosis, esophageal atresia,  esophageal dysmotility, histopathology


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eISSN: 1687-4137
print ISSN: 1687-4137