COMPARATIVE STUDY
JOURNAL ARTICLE
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Comparison of thoracoscopic and laparoscopic Heller myotomy for achalasia.

For more than three decades experts have debated the relative merits of thoracoscopic Heller myotomy (no antireflux procedure) vs. laparoscopic Heller myotomy plus Dor fundoplication for treatment of achalasia. The aim of this study was to compare the results of these two methods with respect to (1) relief of dysphagia, (2) incidence of postoperative gastroesophageal reflux, and (3) hospital course. Sixty patients with esophageal achalasia were operated on between 1991 and 1996. Thirty underwent a thoracoscopic Heller myotomy and 30 had a laparoscopic Heller myotomy with a Dor fundoplication. The two groups were similar with respect to demographic characteristics, clinical findings, and extent of manometric abnormalities. Preoperative pH monitoring showed abnormal reflux in two patients in the laparoscopic group. Average hospital stay was 84 hours for the thoracoscopic group and 42 hours for the laparoscopic group. Excellent (no dysphagia) or good (dysphagia less than once a week) results were obtained in 87% of patients in the thoracoscopic group and in 90% of patients in the laparoscopic group. Postoperative pH monitoring showed abnormal reflux in 6 (60%) of 10 patients in the thoracoscopic group and in 1 (10%) of 10 patients in the laparoscopic group. The two patients in the laparoscopic group who had reflux preoperatively had normal reflux scores postoperatively. Laparoscopic Heller myotomy with Dor fundoplication was found to be superior to thoracoscopic Heller myotomy. Both operations relieved dysphagia, but the laparoscopic approach avoided postoperative reflux and even corrected reflux present preoperatively. In addition, the patients were more comfortable and left the hospital earlier following a laparoscopic myotomy. Whether it is truly possible to perform a Heller myotomy without an antireflux procedure in a way that relieves dysphagia and regularly avoids reflux remains questionable.

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