Hannover Medical School is internationally recognized as a reference center for various congenital malformations including those of the esophagus, gastrointestinal tract, diaphragm and abdominal wall. The department of pediatric surgery together with numerous other departments of the University works towards the development and application of clinical pathways and translational medicine approaches to improve the quality of care for patients of all ERNICA diagnoses.
The unit has evolved in particular as a national reference center for patients with congenital esophageal diseases in cooperation with a leading patient support group. Since more than a decade patients with complicated esophageal conditions have been referred to our center from all over Germany and other countries. We provide a multidisciplinary approach and access to all necessary diagnostic tools and specialized interventions. Prenatal medicine, neonatal intensive care and genetic counceling are available at a highest level. Specific clinical pathways and protocols have been set up to improve the quality of care and surgery.
Clinical and experimental research activities are focused on immunological and pathophysiological aspects of infants and newborns with congenital malformations. New operative techniques including minimally invasive surgery were developed for various conditions of the gastrointestinal tract and diaphragm and some of those were performed for the first time worldwide in our institution.
Quality of life of patients is established as a major outcome parameter in our department. A new quality of life instrument has been developed by a multi-institutional team and will allow identifying specific problems in individual patients.
We take part in several registries on a national and international level. Activities with health insurance companies were launched to study epidemiological aspects of various rare congenital diseases. Multiple original articles and book chapters on these topics have been published during recent years.
Since 2015, a transition program has been established for adolescents and young adults with congenital
malformations of the esophagus and gastrointestinal tract in our institution. This follow-up program is conducted by clinicians and colleagues from various fields including psychologists, nutritionists and others. Several transition workshops for health care professionals and patients have been conducted.
The head of the department of pediatric surgery serves as one of the coordinators of the ERNICA Esophagus Workgroup. Activities of the group include workshops, the establishment of Best Practice Guidelines and consensus meetings in particular on surgical aspects of esophageal atresia treatment. The aim of these activities is to set up quality and safety benchmarks and to spread of best practices.