Helping Food Pass Into the Stomach

Achalasia is a condition that makes it difficult for food and liquid to travel from your esophagus into your stomach. The lower esophageal sphincter (LES) is a valve that opens and closes, allowing food to pass into the stomach while preventing acid from flowing back into the esophagus. When the LES does not operate properly, achalasia occurs. Surgery may be needed to correct this disorder.

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How the Procedure Is Performed

A Heller myotomy, or Per Oral Endoscopic Myotomy (POEM), is a surgical procedure used to treat achalasia. It is performed using minimally invasive techniques (laparoscopic or robotic). Minimally invasive surgery may result in less pain, less blood loss, a shorter hospital stay and a shorter recovery.*

During this procedure, five small incisions are made and a laparoscope/robotic endoscope and long thin instruments are inserted in the incisions. The instruments are used to divide the LES muscle fibers. This then enables food to pass into the stomach.

When the Heller myotomy is completed, a procedure called a fundoplication is performed to recreate the valve that prevents acid from flowing back into the esophagus.

Recovering From Surgery

Most patients spend one night in the hospital and can go home the next day. They can usually return to work and normal activities in less than one week. A liquid diet is started the day of surgery and advanced to a soft diet as tolerated. Patients will need to continue soft foods for approximately two to four weeks after surgery. A follow-up visit with the surgeon normally occurs two weeks after surgery.

*Individual results may vary. There are risks associated with any surgical procedure. Talk with your doctor about these risks to find out if robotic surgery or minimally invasive surgery are right for you.