Achalasia: A Comprehensive Review

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Achalasia is a rare neurologic deficit of the esophagus, producing a syndrome of impaired relaxation of the lower esophageal sphincter and decreased motility of the esophageal body for which the cause is unknown. The resultant chronic esophageal stasis produces discomforting symptoms that can be managed with medication, chemical paralysis of the lower esophageal sphincter, mechanical dilation, or surgical esophagomyotomy. Chemical paralysis by injection of the esophagus with botulinum toxin and dilation with an inflatable balloon offers good short-term relief of symptoms; however, the best long-term results are produced by surgery, and advancing minimally invasive techniques continually reduce the morbidity of these operations. The type of surgical procedure, the necessity for fundoplication, and the order of treatment continue to be unresolved issues, but prospective evaluation with objective followup should allow us to provide the optimal treatment regimen to our patients.

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