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Chirurg. 2014 Dec;85(12):1055-63. doi: 10.1007/s00104-014-2803-1.

[Diagnostics and therapy of achalasia].

[Article in German]

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Klinik für Allgemein-, Visceral-, Gefäß- und Kinderchirurgie, Zentrum für operative Medizin (ZOM), Universitätsklinikum Würzburg, Oberdürrbacherstr. 6, 97080, Würzburg, Deutschland,


The low incidence (1:100,000) makes primary idiopathic achalasia a problem of special importance. Patients often have a long medical history of suffering before the diagnosis is established and adequate therapy provided. Surgeons who perform antireflux surgery must be certain of detecting achalasia patients within their collective of gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD) patients to avoid contraindicated fundoplication. The current gold standard for establishing the diagnosis of achalasia is manometry. Especially in early stages, symptom evaluation, endoscopy and barium swallow lack adequate sensitivity. High-resolution manometry (HRM) is increasingly used and allows characterization of different achalasia types (i.e. type I classical achalasia, type II panesophageal pressurization and type III spasmodic achalasia) and differentiation from other motility disorders (e.g. distal esophageal spasm, jackhammer esophagus and nutcracker esophagus). For patients over 45 years of age additional endoscopic ultrasound and computed tomography are recommended to exclude pseudoachalasia. A curative treatment restoring normal esophageal function does not exist; however, there are good options for symptom control. Therapy aims are abolishment of dysphagia, improvement of esophageal clearance, prevention of reflux and abolishment of chest pain. The current standard treatment is cardiomyotomy, which was first described 100 years ago by the German surgeon Ernst Heller and has been shown to be clearly superior when compared to endoscopic treatment (e.g. botox injection and balloon dilatation). Heller's myotomy procedure is preferentially performed via the laparoscopic route and combined with partial fundoplication. Currently, an alternative to performing Heller's myotomy via the endoscopic route is under intensive investigation in several centers worldwide. The peroral endoscopic myotomy (POEM) procedure has shown very promising initial results and warrants further clinical evaluation.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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