Regional Gastrointestinal Consultants

Achalasia

Achalasia

Overview

The esophagus is the tube that carries food from the throat to the stomach and Achalasia is a serious condition that affects your esophagus. The lower esophageal sphincter (LES) is a valve that closes off the esophagus from the stomach. If you have Achalasia, your LES fails to open up during swallowing which leads to a backup of food within your esophagus.

Symptoms

Symptoms of Achalasia include the following:

  • Dysphagia (most common)
  • Regurgitation
  • Chest pain
  • Weight loss
  • Backflow (regurgitation) of food
  • Chest pain, which may increase after eating, or may be felt as pain in the back, neck, and arms
  • Cough
  • Difficulty swallowing liquids and solids
  • Heartburn
  • Unintentional weight loss

Treatment

The goal of therapy for Achalasia is to relieve symptoms by eliminating the outflow resistance caused by the hypertensive and nonrelaxing LES.

Pharmacologic and other nonsurgical treatments include the following:

  • Administration of calcium channel blockers and nitrates decrease LES pressure (primarily in elderly patients who cannot undergo pneumatic dilatation or surgery)
  • Endoscopic intrasphincteric injection of botulinum toxin to block acetylcholine release at the level of the LES (mainly in elderly patients who are poor candidates for dilatation or surgery)

Surgical treatment includes the following:

  • Laparoscopic Heller myotomy, preferably with anterior (Dor; more common) or posterior (Toupet) partial fundoplication
  • Peroral endoscopic myotomy (POEM)
  • Esophagectomy is the last resort.

IMPORTANT HEALTH NOTE

We recommend that people experiencing gastrointestinal symptoms do not attempt self-treatment. With many medications being available over the counter, and numerous do-it-yourself online unqualified remedy recommendation, it is natural to consider treating yourself but we highly recommend against this.

If you are experiencing gastrointestinal symptoms you may have a more significant issue than you would expect from the sometimes muted or infrequent symptom you may be experiencing. It is important to keep in mind that is you are having gastrointestinal symptoms or concerns it is best see a doctor to have those symptoms diagnosed and any conditions treated. Also, it is worth noting, that if health conditions do exist, the earlier they are diagnosed and treated, the greater the probability will be to successfully eliminate or manage a present condition, in fact successful outcomes will increase significantly with early detection.

If you have gastrointestinal concerns or are experiencing any gastrointestinal symptoms, please contact us promptly to schedule a consultation with a physician.


DISCLAIMER: PLEASE READ CAREFULLY

The information on this website is to provide general information. In no way, does any of the information provided reflect definitive medical advice and self-diagnoses should not be made based on information obtained online. It is important to consult a best in class physician regarding ANY and ALL symptoms or signs as it may a sign of a serious illness or condition. A thorough consultation and examination should ALWAYS be performed for an accurate diagnosis and treatment plan. Be sure to call a physician or call our office today at (215) 321-4700 to schedule a consultation.