JOURNAL ARTICLE
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The role of laparoscopic Heller myotomy in the treatment of achalasia.

AIM: To evaluate the results of laparoscopic Heller myotomy in our group of patients.

METHOD: A retrospective clinical trial was carried out to evaluate the indication, technique and controversies of laparoscopic Heller myotomy in the achalasia treatment. The following symptoms were evaluated prior and after Heller myotomy: dysphagia, heartburn, nausea/vomiting after meal and asthma/coughing. The patients were evaluated by the use of Likert score. Statistical analysis was performed by using Student t test. The intra-operative (operation time, intraoperative complications, blood loss, conversion rate), and peri-operative parameters (morbidity, mortality, hospital stay) were evaluated as well. The patients who underwent laparoscopic Heller myotomy were included in the trial. All patients were perioperatively managed by a multidisciplinary team.

RESULTS: The evaluation of fourteen patients was performed (average age: 53.2 yrs., eleven men, two women, BMI 23.6 kg/m(2)). The patients were indicated for surgery in all of the stages (I-III). Previous semiconservative therapeutic modalities were performed in thirteen patients. The standard laparoscopic technique for Heller myotomy with semifundoplication was applied. All the observed symptoms were statistically improved after the surgery (p=0.05). The average operating time was 89 minutes. Intraoperative blood loss was below 20 ml. There was no conversion to open surgery. An average hospital stay was 4.3 days. Morbidity was 14.3 % and mortality 0 %. In one patient esophageal mucosa perforation was intra-operatively identified and sutured. Post-operative course in this patient was without any complications.

CONCLUSION: The laparoscopic Heller myotomy has become the "gold standard" procedure for achalasia. It is an excellent method allowing precise operation technique with good visualization of the esophagogastric junction. The operation with this approach is safe, efficient, and with excellent reproducible operative results. The correct and early indication for surgery is crucial. The delayed diagnosis with a late indication for surgery is not an exemption (Tab. 2, Fig. 2, Ref. 36).

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