Your Surgical Options for Managing Achalasia
Achalasia is is a lifelong esophageal disorder that occurs when nerve fibers within the esophagus become destroyed. This can result in two issues:
- The damaged nerve fibers prevent the esophagus from being able to push and pass food down into the stomach.
- The muscular valve locate between the stomach and esophagus, known as the lower esophageal sphincter, is unable to relax and function properly, making it much more difficult to pass food down to the stomach.
Achalasia surgery can provide long-term relief for those who suffer from the condition. There are two surgical options for treating achalasia: a Heller myotomy and a peroral endoscopic myotomy (POEM).
The Heller myotomy has proven to be a highly effective procedure that provides long-term relief from the symptoms achalasia can cause. A Heller myotomy is a laparoscopic procedure, so several small incisions will need to be made on the abdomen. This will provide surgeon Dr. Reginald Bell with access to the damaged lower esophageal sphincter. Dr. Bell will cut the valve muscle and then carefully rebuild it to restore its proper function.
POEM is a newer surgical therapy that does not require abdominal incisions. A specialized endoscope will be inserted through the mouth and will then be placed underneath the lining of the esophagus. The procedure focuses on cutting the same muscle layer as the one cut during a Heller myotomy, but the muscle layer is cut on the inside of the esophagus in this procedure.
POEM has been shown to be effective, but a majority of insurance companies classify the procedure as investigational due to a lack of long-term data.
At Institute of Esophageal and Reflux Surgery, we will sit down and discuss each option with you, addressing any questions or concerns you may have. We will also provide you with a thorough set of pre-op and post-op instruction that will help you to fully prepare for the procedure. Contact Institute of Esophageal and Reflux Surgery today to schedule a consultation.