A single institution's experience with more than 500 laparoscopic Heller myotomies for achalasia

Alexander S Rosemurgy, Connor A Morton, Melissa Rosas, Michael Albrink, Sharona B Ross
Journal of the American College of Surgeons 2010, 210 (5): 637-45, 645-7

BACKGROUND: Long-term symptom relief and patient satisfaction after Heller myotomy are being reported. Herein, we report the largest experience of laparoscopic Heller myotomy for the treatment of achalasia.

STUDY DESIGN: Since 1992, 505 patients have been prospectively followed after laparoscopic Heller myotomy. Until 2004, concomitant fundoplication was undertaken for a patulous hiatus, a large hiatal hernia, or to buttress the repair of an esophagotomy, then concomitant fundoplication became routinely applied. More recently, laparo-endoscopic single site (LESS) Heller myotomy has been performed when possible to improve cosmesis. Before and after myotomy, patients scored their symptoms.

RESULTS: Before myotomy, 60% of patients underwent endoscopic therapy; of these patients, 27% had Botox (Allergan) therapy alone, 52% underwent dilation therapy alone, and 21% had both. Esophagotomy occurred in 7% of patients. Concomitant diverticulectomy was undertaken in 7%, fundoplication was performed in 59%, and LESS Heller myotomy was done in 12%. Median length of stay was 1 day. With mean follow-up at 31 months, the severity of all symptoms improved significantly. After myotomy, 95% experienced symptoms less than once per week, 86% believed their outcome is satisfying or better, and 92% would undergo myotomy again, if necessary. Symptoms after myotomy are similar with or without fundoplication and regardless of the laparoscopic approach used.

CONCLUSIONS: Laparoscopic Heller myotomy safely and durably relieves symptoms of dysphagia. Confinement is short and satisfaction is very high. Relief of esophageal obstruction is paramount; the approach used or the application of a fundoplication has a lesser impact. Laparoscopic Heller myotomy, preferably with anterior fundoplication using a single site laparoscopic approach, is strongly encouraged for patients with symptomatic achalasia and is efficacious even after failures of dilation and/or Botox therapy.

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