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Thoracoscopic esophageal myotomy in the treatment of achalasia.

We treated 24 patients with achalasia using thoracoscopic (22 patients) or laparoscopic (2 patients) esophagomyotomy. The only operative complications were mucosal lacerations, which occurred in 3 patients and required conversion to an open procedure in 2. Twenty-two (91%) patients were eating by the second postoperative day. Analgesics were only required for the management of pain from the chest tube, which remained in place for a median time of 24 hours. The median postoperative hospital stay was 3 days (range, 20 to 14 days). The myotomy proved to be incomplete in the first 3 patients, who required a second myotomy; this was done laparoscopically in 2. One patient had a paraesophageal hernia repaired 6 months after the myotomy, and 1 patient required an esophagectomy 1 year after the myotomy for a large nonfunctioning esophagus. Late follow-up showed that swallowing was excellent in 17 (71%) and fair to good in 4 (17%). Sixteen (66%) of these 24 patients have regained their original weight. Thus, excellent to good results were ultimately obtained in nearly 90% of the patients. These results suggest that esophageal myotomy performed using minimally invasive techniques appears to be the treatment of choice for achalasia.

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