Achalasia

Achalasia is a condition in which the muscles of the oesophagus (gullet) are unable to propel food into the stomach. In addition the tight muscle (sphincter) at the lower end of the oesophagus (gullet) does not relax.

The consequence is that food and fluid cannot pass down through the bottom of the oesophagus into the stomach and then it collects in the oesophagus. This then causes difficulty in swallowing, poor intake of food and then poor nutrition.

Patients usually notice difficulty with swallowing solid food and then regurgitation of food. This refers to previously eaten food coming back into the mouth. These symptoms should be investigated with a barium x-ray, gastroscopy and an oesophageal pressure test.

The level of dysfunction of the muscle of the oesophagus can be quite variable between patients and it is important it is investigated thoroughly to be able to formulate an appropriate management plan.

There are a few different techniques to try and overcome the tight muscle at the lower end of the oesophagus. It is important to realise that any treatment of achalasia cannot return the oesophageal muscle back to normal, but is designed to relieve some of the symptoms and make this condition more manageable.

In discussion with your surgeon you will work out what is the best plan for your treatment. One of the options for treatment is a surgical procedure called ‘Heller’s Cardiomyotomy‘ .

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