The main symptoms that patients experience in adult life are swallowing difficulties (dysphagia) and reflux symptoms (heartburn and regurgitation of food). These symptoms are very common, occurring in up to 80% of adults who have had surgery for OA.
Such issues occur as a result of a loss of normal anatomy and nerve supply to the lower oesophagus:
The likelihood that an adult who underwent surgery for OA in infancy will suffer from continuing oesophageal symptoms depends on:
Whilst most people with repaired OA/TOF will have dysphagia, GORD or other gastrointestinal symptoms; one difficulty for the patient and doctor is that they may not be aware what is pathological. Adults born with OA/TOF have had a lifetime of adaptation to these symptoms, and no experience of a normal oesophagus, so it is often useful to use a reflux or dysphagia questionnaire in this instance to help determine symptoms fully.