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Minimally invasive myotomy for the treatment of esophageal achalasia: evolution of the surgical procedure and the therapeutic algorithm.

Achalasia is a rare disease of the esophagus, characterized by the absence of peristalsis in the esophageal body and incomplete relaxation of the lower esophageal sphincter, which may be hypertensive. The cause of this disease is unknown; therefore, the aim of the therapy is to improve esophageal emptying by eliminating the outflow resistance caused by the lower esophageal sphincter. This goal can be accomplished either by pneumatic dilatation or surgical myotomy, which are the only long-term effective therapies for achalasia. Historically, pneumatic dilatation was preferred over surgical myotomy because of the morbidity associated with a thoracotomy or a laparotomy. However, with the development of minimally invasive techniques, the surgical approach has gained widespread acceptance among patients and gastroenterologists and, consequently, the role of surgery has changed. The aim of this study was to review the changes occurred in the surgical treatment of achalasia over the last 2 decades; specifically, the development of minimally invasive techniques with the evolution from a thoracoscopic approach without an antireflux procedure to a laparoscopic myotomy with a partial fundoplication, the changes in the length of the myotomy, and the modification of the therapeutic algorithm.

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