The usefulness of the upper gastrointestinal series in the pediatric patient before anti-reflux procedure or gastrostomy tube placement

Document Type



Paediatric Surgery


Objective: Most children undergo an upper gastrointestinal study (UGI) before an anti-reflux (AR) procedure or gastrostomy tube placement (GT). Anatomic abnormalities detected by UGI are uncommon and we hypothesize that the value of routine preoperative use of this test is limited.
Methods: Five hundred and seventy-two patients who underwent either an AR or GT over a 10-y period at our institution were reviewed. Data including patient demographics, indications for surgery, preoperative testing, and type of operation were collected.
Results: Of the 572 cases, an UGI was performed in approximately 71%. The results were interpreted as normal in 63%, and abnormal in 37%. The most common abnormality noted was gastroesophageal reflux in approximately 80%, followed by an anatomic abnormality in 6%, most of which were expected. Of 36 anatomic abnormalities noted, only four were unexpected in the total cohort. In addition to an UGI, half of the subjects received additional evaluations that included pH probes and gastric emptying studies (GES). In these studies, 56% of pH probes and 45% of GES had findings in which reflux was noted. Compared with UGIs, these tests were significantly more likely to identify reflux in patients.
Conclusion: These results suggest that the utility of an UGI before AR or GT procedures is low. Anatomic abnormalities were rare and changed clinical management in a total of four cases. A prospective trial would help to further validate these findings and help identify patients who would benefit from an UGI.


This work was published before the author joined Aga Khan University.

Publication (Name of Journal)

Journal of Surgical Research