To present the objectively assessed very long-term results of a prospective study of 149 patients with achalasia of the cardia who underwent Heller myotomy and posterior partial fundoplication.Summary Background Data:
Very few studies evaluate objectively the very long-term results to analyze whether the effectiveness of Heller myotomy is maintained with the passing of time.Methods:
The study group consisted of 149 patients who underwent a Heller myotomy plus a posterior partial fundoplication through a laparotomy. The median follow-up was 6 years (range, 1–27 years). Follow-up period was over 10 years in 53 patients and over 15 in 36. Clinical, radiologic, endoscopic, manometric, and pHmetric evaluations were performed postoperatively.Results:
Satisfactory results were higher than 90% up to 5 years. From that time on results gradually decreased to a 75% rate after 15 years (P < 0.001) due to either heartburn or dysphagia. Both the esophageal diameter and the mean resting pressure of the lower esophageal sphincter decreased postoperatively with no significant changes during follow-up. Esophagitis appeared in 11% of the patients (47% of them being asymptomatic) and 24-hour pH monitoring showed pathologic rates of acid reflux in 14% of patients, 58% of them being asymptomatic. Both esophagitis and pathologic rates of reflux appeared in >40% of the patients late in the follow-up.Conclusion:
Results after Heller myotomy plus posterior partial fundoplication deteriorate with time, although we achieved a 75% of satisfactory results after >15 years of follow-up. Our study highlights the importance of life long follow-up and the objective assessment of the results.