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How is achalasia treated?

Achalasia makes it feel like food gets hung up before entering the stomach, and can be treated with surgery.

Dr. Gary W. Falk, MD
Gastroenterologist

Achalasia is a rare motility disorder of the esophagus that can present with a variety of symptoms including difficulty swallowing, regurgitation, chest pain, heartburn and weight loss. The diagnosis of achalasia requires a high index of suspicion by the patient’s physician. The diagnosis is typically based on a combination of barium X-ray, endoscopy and esophageal manometry findings. The preferred treatment options are either pneumatic dilation or a laparoscopic Heller Myotomy. Both approaches disrupt the lower esophageal sphincter muscle which is tightened due to defective nerve transmission in this condition. A new endoscopic option known as POEMS is currently under investigation for treatment of this condition. Injection of the lower esophageal sphincter with BOTOX is an excellent option for elderly patients or those with multiple medical problems for whom surgery or pneumatic dilation is too risky.

Dr. Patricia L. Raymond, MD
Gastroenterologist

We can’t do much about the lack of movement in the body of the esophagus, but we can release the lower esophageal sphincter. Our options include dilation, injection with Botox (yep, the kind used for face wrinkles, and no, we aren’t permitted to inject any leftovers elsewhere), or surgical myomectomy. Most do well after these procedures to relax the lower esophageal sphincter.

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.