Evaluation Study
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Pneumatic dilation for achalasia: late results of a prospective follow up investigation.

Gut 2004 May
BACKGROUND: and aims: In this prospective study, we determined the long term clinical course of patients with achalasia who were treated by pneumatic dilation using the Browne-McHardy dilator, and determined whether previously described predictors of outcome remain significant after prolonged follow up.

METHODS: Between 1981 and 1991, 54 consecutive patients were treated by pneumatic dilation and followed up at regular intervals for a median of 13.8 years. Remission was determined with the use of a structured interview and a previously described symptom score. Duration of remission was evaluated by Kaplan-Meier estimates of time to recurrence. Predictors of outcome were determined using the log rank test.

RESULTS: Complete follow up until 2002 was obtained in 98% of all patients. Seven patients had died and were censored. A single pneumatic dilation resulted in a five year remission rate of 40% and a 10 year remission rate of 36%. Repeated dilations only mildly improved the clinical response. Patients who were older than 40 years had a significantly better outcome than younger patients (log rank test, p = 0.0014). However, the most significant predictive factor for a favourable long term outcome was a post-dilation lower oesophageal sphincter pressure of less than 10 mm Hg (log rank test, p = 0.0001).

CONCLUSIONS: Long term results of pneumatic dilation are less favourable than previously thought. Young patients and those not responding to a single pneumatic dilation should be offered alternative therapy. Patients who remain in remission for five years are likely to benefit from the longlasting treatment effect of pneumatic dilation.

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