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Management of achalasia in 2019

Zaninotto, Giovanni; Leusink, Astrid; Markar, Sheraz R.

Current Opinion in Gastroenterology: July 2019 - Volume 35 - Issue 4 - p 356–362
doi: 10.1097/MOG.0000000000000544
ESOPHAGUS: Edited by Stuart J. Spechler

Purpose of review The purpose of this review is to discuss the efficacy, morbidity and side-effects of innovative management strategies for achalasia that include high-resolution manometry (HRM), pneumatic dilatation, laparoscopic Heller's myotomy (LHM), injection of botulinum toxin into the lower esophageal sphincter and peroral endoscopic myotomy (POEM).

Recent findings HRM has enabled identification of achalasia subtypes that have important prognostic implications. Pneumatic dilatation is a commonly-used and cost-effective method of treating achalasia but has shown poor longevity of symptom relief compared with other modalities and carries a risk of esophageal perforation. LHM is often the preferred, most effective treatment modality, however new studies may show that outcomes are equivalent or even inferior to POEM. Botulinum toxin injection of the lower esophageal sphincter has a waning and short duration of efficacy and is used primarily for patients unsuitable for more definitive invasive procedures. POEM is considered the most effective treatment for type III achalasia but carries a high risk of iatrogenic gastroesophageal reflux disease that might predispose to the development of Barrett's esophagus.

Summary HRM and POEM are two major innovations in the management of achalasia developed over the past decade. There are now three major management options for patients with achalasia, namely pneumatic dilatation, LHM and POEM. Treatment selection should be tailored to the patient's individual esophageal physiology, physical fitness and dominant symptoms.

Department of Surgery and Cancer, Imperial College London, London, UK

Correspondence to Giovanni Zaninotto, MD, Department of Surgery and Cancer, Imperial College London, 10th Floor, Queen Mary & Queen Mother Building, St Mary's Hospital, Praed Street, Paddington, W2 1NY London, UK. Tel: +00 44 7917664054; e-mail:

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