Treatment of Achalasia: The Best of Both Worlds

Academic Article


  • Objective: To conduct a retrospective analysis of one center's experience with treating achalasia over 4 yr with skilled gastroenterologists using primarily the Rigiflex halloon dilator and with a senior surgeon performing Heller myotomies. Methods: Newly diagnosed cases of achalasia were identified hy a computer search of hospital records. Charts were reviewed for the presence/ severity of dysphagia, regurgitation, heartburn, and chest pain. Weight loss was also recorded. Esophageal manometries and barium swallows were reviewed. Choice of treatment was made freely by patients. With an a priori definition of success, follow‐up was conducted by telephone interviews. Results: A total of 45 achalasia patients (mean age, 46 yr; 32 females, 13 males) were identified with a symptoms‐frequency as follows: dysphagia, 100%; regurgitation, 78%; heartburn, 50%; and chest pain, 42%. Mean weight loss was 17.5 pounds. Primary treatment was pneumatic dilation in 36 patients and surgery in nine patients. In a total of 45 pneumatic dilations, three (6.6%) were complicated by perforation. Five (14%) patients required repeat dilation. Mean duration of follow‐up for pneumatic dilation and surgery was 27 months and 20.8 months, respectively. The overall excellent‐good success rates were: pneumatic dilation 88% and surgery 89%. In comparing the efficacy of pneumatic dilation versus surgery, all symptoms were improved significantly (p < 0.01) in both groups, except heartburn, which increased postmyotomy. Conclusions: If both procedures are available by skilled operators, pneumatic dilation and surgery are equally effective in the treatment of achalasia. Copyright © 1994, Wiley Blackwell. All rights reserved
  • Authors

    Published In

    Digital Object Identifier (doi)

    Author List

  • Abid S; Champion G; Richter JK; McKivein R; Slaughter RL; Koehler RE
  • Start Page

  • 979
  • End Page

  • 985
  • Volume

  • 89
  • Issue

  • 7