Treatment of Achalasia: The Best of Both Worlds

S. Abid, G. Champion, J. K. Richter, R. McKivein, R. L. Slaughter, R. E. Koehler

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

114 Citations (Scopus)


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.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)979-985
Number of pages7
JournalAmerican Journal of Gastroenterology
Issue number7
Publication statusPublished - Jul 1994
Externally publishedYes


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