Revisional surgery after failed esophagogastric myotomy for achalasia: successful esophageal preservation

Benjamin R Veenstra, Ross F Goldberg, Steven P Bowers, Mathew Thomas, Ronald A Hinder, C Daniel Smith
Surgical Endoscopy 2016, 30 (5): 1754-61

BACKGROUND: Treatment failure with recurrent dysphagia after Heller myotomy occurs in fewer than 10 % of patients, most of whom will seek repeat surgical intervention. These reoperations are technically challenging, and as such, there exist only limited reports of reoperation with esophageal preservation.

METHODS: We retrospectively reviewed the records of patients who sought operative intervention from March 1998 to December 2014 for obstructed swallowing after esophagogastric myotomy. All patients underwent a systematic approach, including complete hiatal dissection, takedown of prior fundoplication, and endoscopic assessment of myotomy. Patterns of failure were categorized as: fundoplication failure, inadequate myotomy, fibrosis, and mucosal stricture.

RESULTS: A total of 58 patients underwent 65 elective reoperations. Four patients underwent esophagectomy as their initial reoperation, while three patients ultimately required esophagectomy. The remainder underwent reoperations with the goal of esophageal preservation. Of these 58, 46 were first-time reoperations; ten were second time; and two were third-time reoperations. Forty-one had prior operations via a trans-abdominal approach, 11 via thoracic approach, and 6 via combined approaches. All reoperations at our institution were performed laparoscopically (with two conversions to open). Inadequate myotomy was identified in 53 % of patients, fundoplication failure in 26 %, extensive fibrosis in 19 %, and mucosal stricture in 2 %. Intraoperative esophagogastric perforation occurred in 19 % of patients and was repaired. Our postoperative leak rate was 5 %. Esophageal preservation was possible in 55 of the 58 operations in which it was attempted. At median follow-up of 34 months, recurrent dysphagia after reoperation was seen in 63 % of those with a significant fibrosis versus 28 % with inadequate myotomy, 25 % with failed wrap, and 100 % with mucosal stricture (p = 0.10).

CONCLUSIONS: Laparoscopic reoperation with esophageal preservation is successful in the majority of patients with recurrent dysphagia after Heller myotomy. The pattern of failure has implications for relief of dysphagia with reoperative intervention.

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