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Peroral Endoscopic Myotomy for Achalasia in a Thoracic Surgical Practice.

BACKGROUND: Peroral endoscopic myotomy (POEM) is a new option in the treatment of achalasia. It has typically been performed by general surgeons and gastroenterologists familiar with advanced endoscopic procedures. Our objective was to assess the initial experience and outcomes with POEM by a thoracic surgeon.

METHODS: A retrospective chart review was performed of all patients who underwent POEM from October 2012 until December 2014. Pre- and post-POEM evaluation included upper endoscopy, high-resolution manometry, and a timed barium swallow.

RESULTS: There were 35 patients (18 men and 17 women), with a median age of 53 years. Based on high-resolution manometry, there were 8 patients (23%) with type I, 21 (60%) with type II, and 5 (14%) with type III achalasia, and 1 patient had hypertensive lower esophageal sphincter. Prior therapy had been performed in 18 patients (51%). The POEM procedure was completed in all but 1 patient. On follow-up, dysphagia was improved in all patients. The Eckardt score was significantly reduced from 7 before POEM to 0 after POEM (p < 0.0001), and improved similarly for all manometric types of achalasia. Post-POEM upper endoscopy showed esophagitis in 55% of patients, but this condition resolved in all with acid suppression. Timed barium swallow showed a reduction of esophageal retention at 5 minutes from 63% before POEM to 5% after POEM. Ten patients had follow-up at 12 months or greater after POEM and the improvements persisted.

CONCLUSIONS: Peroral endoscopic myotomy is a safe and effective therapy for achalasia. It provides reliable and persistent palliation of dysphagia and objective improvement in esophageal emptying. Esophagitis is common but resolves with acid suppression therapy. Thoracic surgeons with an interest in esophageal diseases and experience with endoscopy are encouraged to adopt the procedure.

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