Comparative Study
Journal Article
Observational Study
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Achalasia Treatment, Outcomes, Utilization, and Costs: A Population-Based Study from the United States.

BACKGROUND: Randomized trials show that pneumatic dilation (PD) ≥30 mm and laparoscopic myotomy (LM) provide equivalent symptom relief and disease-related quality of life for patients with achalasia. However, questions remain about the safety, burden, and costs of treatment options.

STUDY DESIGN: We performed a retrospective cohort study of achalasia patients initially treated with PD or LM (2009 to 2014) using the Truven Health MarketScan Research Databases. All patients had 1 year of follow-up after initial treatment. We compared safety, health care use, and total and out-of-pocket costs using generalized linear models.

RESULTS: Among 1,061 patients, 82% were treated with LM. The LM patients were younger (median age 49 vs 52 years; p < 0.01), but were similar in terms of sex (p = 0.80) and prevalence of comorbid conditions (p = 0.11). There were no significant differences in the 1-year cumulative risk of esophageal perforation (LM 0.8% vs PD 1.6%; p = 0.32) or 30-day mortality (LM 0.3% vs PD 0.5%; p = 0.71). Laparoscopic myotomy was associated with an 82% lower rate of reintervention (p < 0.01), a 29% lower rate of subsequent diagnostic testing (p < 0.01), and a 53% lower rate of readmission (p < 0.01). Total and out-of-pocket costs were not significantly different (p > 0.05).

CONCLUSIONS: In the US, LM appears to be the preferred treatment for achalasia. Both LM and PD appear to be safe interventions. Along a short time horizon, the costs of LM and PD were not different. Mirroring findings from randomized trials, LM is associated with fewer reinterventions, less diagnostic testing, and fewer hospitalizations.

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