Peroral endoscopic myotomy (POEM) for esophageal primary motility disorders: analysis of 100 consecutive patients

Ahmed M Sharata, Christy M Dunst, Radu Pescarus, Eran Shlomovitz, Aaron J T Wille, Kevin M Reavis, Lee L Swanström
Journal of Gastrointestinal Surgery: Official Journal of the Society for Surgery of the Alimentary Tract 2015, 19 (1): 161-70; discussion 170

INTRODUCTION: Peroral endoscopic myotomy (POEM) is a flexible endoscopic approach to the lower esophageal sphincter (LES) providing access for a myotomy to relieve dysphagia. The technique has been adopted worldwide due to reports of excellent short-term clinical outcomes. We report on a consecutive patient cohort with clinical and objective outcomes representing the establishment of a POEM program within a busy esophageal surgical practice.

METHODS: Comprehensive data was collected prospectively on all patients undergoing POEM from October 2010 to November 2013 at a single institution. Patients were classified based on high-resolution manometry (HRM). Operative data and immediate outcomes were reviewed. Symptom scores, HRM, and timed barium swallow (TBS) were performed prior to the procedure. Patients were asked to undergo routine postoperative testing 6-12 months after surgery with the addition of standard 24-h pH to the preoperative protocol. Morbidity was defined as requiring additional procedures or prolonged hospital stay >2 days.

RESULTS: One hundred POEM patients were included in the final analysis. The mean age was 58 years (18-83 years). Primary presenting symptoms included dysphagia 81, chest pain 10, and regurgitation 9. The mean follow-up was 16 months. HRM diagnoses were 75 achalasia (30 type I, 43 type II, 2 type III), 12 nutcracker esophagus, 5 diffuse esophageal spasm (DES), and 8 isolated hypertensive non-relaxing LES. The mean operative time was 128 min. The median hospital length of stay (LOS) was 1 day. The overall morbidity was 6%; all were treated endoscopically or with conservative management without further sequelae (three had intra-tunnel leak diagnosed on routine esophagram and one developed a postoperative intra-tunnel hemorrhage, one developed Ogilvie's, and one required prolonged intubation for CO2 retention). The average LES resting/residual pressure significantly decreased (44.3/22.2 to 19.6/11.7 in millimeters of mercury). Esophageal emptying improved from 40 to 90% on TBS with 93% patients demonstrating >90% emptying at 1 min. Of the achalasia patients, 36% (17/47) showed some return of normal peristalsis (≥70% peristalsis) on post-op HRM. Abnormal acid exposure was present on postoperative testing in 38% (26/68). Of these, 14 were asymptomatic. No reflux patient required additional antireflux procedure. Eckardt scores decreased from 6 to 1. Dysphagia was improved or eradicated in 97% with a complete resolution accomplished in 89%. Complete dysphagia relief was better for achalasia patients (46/47 patients; 97.8%) vs. non-achalasia patients (17/24; 70.8%). Of those with preoperative chest pain, 91.5% reported complete relief. Four patients have refractory dysphagia. Two non-achalasia patients underwent subsequent laparoscopic Heller myotomy and two are improved following serial endoscopic dilatations.

CONCLUSION: This study represents the largest POEM series to date that includes objective data. Despite reflux in one/three of patients, POEM provides excellent relief of dysphagia (97%) and chest pain (91.5%) for patients with esophageal spastic disorders with acceptable procedural morbidity.

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