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Lancet. 2014 Jan 4;383(9911):83-93. doi: 10.1016/S0140-6736(13)60651-0. Epub 2013 Jul 17.


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Department of Gastroenterology, Translational Research Center for Gastrointestinal Disorders (TARGID), University Hospital Leuven, Catholic University of Leuven, Leuven, Belgium. Electronic address:
Department of Surgical and Gastroenterological Sciences, University of Padova, UOC General Surgery, Sts Giovanni e Paolo Hospital, Venice, Italy.
Division of Digestive Diseases and Nutrition, Joy McCann Culverhouse Center for Esophageal and Swallowing Disorders, University of South Florida Morsani College of Medicine, Tampa, FL, USA.


Achalasia is a rare motility disorder of the oesophagus characterised by loss of enteric neurons leading to absence of peristalsis and impaired relaxation of the lower oesophageal sphincter. Although its cause remains largely unknown, ganglionitis resulting from an aberrant immune response triggered by a viral infection has been proposed to underlie the loss of oesophageal neurons, particularly in genetically susceptible individuals. The subsequent stasis of ingested food not only leads to symptoms of dysphagia, regurgitation, chest pain, and weight loss, but also results in an increased risk of oesophageal carcinoma. At present, pneumatic dilatation and Heller myotomy combined with an anti-reflux procedure are the treatments of choice and have comparable success rates. Per-oral endoscopic myotomy has recently been introduced as a new minimally invasive treatment for achalasia, but there have not yet been any randomised clinical trials comparing this option with pneumatic dilatation and Heller myotomy.

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