Practical approaches to the surgical management of achalasia. Academic Article uri icon

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abstract

  • Achalasia is a primary motor disorder of the esophagus characterized by an abnormal hypertensive, nonrelaxing lower esophageal sphincter (LES) and nonfunctioning, aperistaltic esophageal body resulting in significant regurgitation and dysphagia. The primary goal of treatment is palliation of symptoms. At present, all treatment techniques are directed at relieving the functional obstruction at the level of the LES by disruption or paralysis of the esophageal muscle constituting the LES. Destruction of the LES function also places the patient at risk for pathologic gastroesophageal reflux disease. Therefore, the treatment of patients with achalasia must strike a balance between the relief of dysphagia and potential creation of pathologic gastroesophageal reflux. The advent of laparoscopic esophageal myotomy for the treatment of achalasia over the past decade has resulted in most patients with the disease being referred to surgeons for definitive treatment. At the time of consultation the patient may present with a myriad of symptoms, investigative results, and previous treatments. Based on our experience of over 300 patients treated with surgery at our institution between 1990 and 2007, this review will address the practical problems encountered in the surgical management of achalasia.

publication date

  • February 2008