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Pediatric Achalasia in the Netherlands: Incidence, Clinical Course, and Quality of Life.

Journal of Pediatrics 2016 Februrary
OBJECTIVE: To assess incidence and clinical course of Dutch patients with achalasia diagnosed before 18 years of age as well as their current symptoms and quality of life (QoL).

STUDY DESIGN: Retrospective medical chart review and a cross-sectional study assessing current clinical status using the Eckardt score and reflux disease questionnaire. General QoL was measured using Kidscreen-52 for patients <18 years of age or to 36-Item Short Form Health Survey for patients ≥18 years of age.

RESULTS: Between 1990 and 2013, 87 children (mean age 11.4 ± 3.4 years, 60% male) diagnosed with achalasia in the Netherlands were included. Mean incidence was 0.1/100,000/y (range 0.03-0.21). Initial treatment was pneumodilation (PD) in 68 (79%) patients and Heller myotomy (HM) in 18 (21%) patients. Retreatment was required more often after initial PD compared with initial HM (88% vs 22%; P < .0001). More complications of initial treatment occurred after HM compared with PD (55.6% vs 1.5%; P < .0001). Three esophageal perforations were seen after HM (16.7%), 1 after PD (1.5%). Sixty-three of 87 (72%) patients were prospectively contacted. Median Eckardt score was 3 (IQR 2-5), with 32 patients (44.5%) having positive scores suggesting active disease. Reflux disease questionnaire scores were higher after initial HM vs PD (1.71 [0.96-2.90] vs 0.58 [0-1.56]; P = .005). The 36-Item Short Form Health Survey (n = 52) was lower compared with healthy population norms for 7/8 domains. Kidscreen-52 (n = 20) was similar to population norms.

CONCLUSIONS: Pediatric achalasia is rare and relapse rates are high after initial treatment, especially after pneumodilation, but with more complications after HM. Symptoms often persist into adulthood, without any clinical follow-up. QoL in adulthood was decreased.

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