Achalasia is a rare condition affecting about 1 in 100,000 people where the nerves which help the lower oesophageal sphincter to relax have been destroyed by an autoimmune process. The sphincter fails to relax properly when food is swallowed and so the food can get stuck or find it very difficult to enter the stomach.
What is achalasia?
What are the symptoms of achalasia?
"When you have achalasia you typically will have trouble swallowing. You will feel as though food is stuck in your chest and builds up. You will often regurgitate food or vomit after eating."
"Achalasia is a rare condition affecting about 1 in 100,000 people. In this condition the nerves which cause the oesophageal sphincter to relax are destroyed. The muscles in the oesophagus work harder to try and get food through into the stomach and eventually may stop working. As a result, patients have a sensation of food getting stuck, they can also get pain and lose weight. Over time the condition can progress and oesophagus can stretch and become totally flaccid. There is also an increased risk of aspiration and of oesophageal cancer developing, so regular follow up is essential."
How do we diagnose achalasia?
There are a number of procedures that can be performed to allow easier passage of food and fluids into the stomach.
Endoscopic options include dilating the lower oesophageal sphincter (LES) with a balloon and/or relaxing the muscle by injecting Botox.
For many years the Gold Standard approach has been a keyhole or laparoscopic procedure that can be done through small incisions in the abdominal wall to divide the oesophageal muscle.
Most recently a complex endoscopic procedure known as a Per-Oral Endoscopic Myotomy (POEM) allows the procedure to be performed through the mouth and dividing the oesophageal muscle from the inside.
"The newest technique which is rapidly gaining popularity amongst specialist and also patients is a per-oral endoscopic myotomy or POEM. This is considered a scarless operation as the myotomy is all done through the mouth and no cuts on the skin are necessary. Multiple studies have shown this technique to be safe and effective."
What to expect from achalasia surgery?
Almost 95% of people who undergo surgery get some relief from symptoms. Our surgeons are specialised in upper-gastrointestinal surgery and have additional training in this complex area of oesophageal disorders .
You are in expert hands at Upper GI West and we will offer you the highest quality surgical care. Our five surgeons have experience treating conditions such as achalasia, and we work with you to ensure the best outcomes.