Laparoscopic Heller Myotomy and Fundoplication for Achalasia

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Abstract

Objective

The goal of this study was to review the authors' results with laparoscopic cardiomyotomy and partial fundoplication for achalasia.

Summary Background Data

Pneumatic dilatation and botulinum toxin (BOTOX) injection of the lower esophageal sphincter largely have replaced cardiomyotomy for treatment of achalasia. After a brief experience with a thoracoscopic approach, the authors elected to perform cardiomyotomy laparoscopically, in combination with a partial fundoplication (anterior or posterior).

Patients and Methods

Forty patients were treated between July 1992 and November 1996. Thirty patients had previous therapy of achalasia, 21 with pneumatic dilation, 1 with BOTOX, 6 with balloon and BOTOX, and 2 with transthoracic cardiomyotomy. Three patients had previous laparoscopic fundoplication for gastroesophageal reflux. Symptom scores (0 = none to 4 = disabling) were obtained before surgery and after surgery. Barium swallows and esophagogastroduodenoscopy were performed in all patients. Esophageal motility study was performed in 36 patients. Laparoscopic Heller myotomy and fundoplication was performed through five upper abdominal trocars. A 7-cm myotomy extended 6 cm above the GE junction and 1 cm below the GE junction. A posterior fundoplication was performed in 32 patients, anterior fundoplication in 7 patients, and no fundoplication in 1 patient. Statistical inference was performed with a Wilcoxon signed rank test.

Results

Mean operative duration was 199 ± 36.2 minutes. Mean hospital stay was 2.75 days (range, 1-13 days). Dysphagia was alleviated in all but four patients (90%), and regurgitation in all but two patients (95%) (p < 0.001). Chest pain and heartburn improved significantly (p < 0.01) as well. Intraoperative complications included mucosal laceration in six patients and hypercarbia in one. Postoperative pneumonia developed in two patients, and one patient had moderate hemorrhage from an esophageal ulcer 2 weeks after surgery.

Conclusions

Laparoscopic cardiomyotomy and fundoplication appears to provide definitive treatment of achalasia with rapid rehabilitation and few complications.

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