Surgical management of esophageal achalasia: Evolution of an institutional approach to minimally invasive repair

Mikael Petrosyan, Adham M. Khalafallah, Phillip C. Guzzetta, Anthony D. Sandler, Anil Darbari, Timothy D. Kane

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

10 Scopus citations


Background Surgical management of esophageal achalasia (EA) in children has transitioned over the past 2 decades to predominantly involve laparoscopic Heller myotomy (LHM) or minimally invasive surgery (MIS). More recently, peroral endoscopic myotomy (POEM) has been utilized to treat achalasia in children. Since the overall experience with surgical management of EA is contingent upon disease incidence and surgeon experience, the aim of this study is to report a single institutional contemporary experience for outcomes of surgical treatment of EA by LHM and POEM, with regards to other comparable series in children. Methods An IRB approved retrospective review of all patients with EA who underwent treatment by a surgical approach at a tertiary US children's hospital from 2006 to 2015. Data including demographics, operative approach, Eckardt scores pre- and postoperatively, complications, outcomes, and follow-up were analyzed. Results A total of 33 patients underwent 35 operative procedures to treat achalasia. Of these operations; 25 patients underwent laparoscopic Heller myotomy (LHM) with Dor fundoplication; 4 patients underwent LHM alone; 2 patients underwent LHM with Thal fundoplication; 2 patients underwent primary POEM; 2 patients who had had LHM with Dor fundoplication underwent redo LHM with takedown of Dor fundoplication. Intraoperative complications included 2 mucosal perforations (6%), 1 aspiration, 1 pneumothorax (1 POEM patient). Follow ranged from 8 months to 7 years (8–84 months). There were no deaths and no conversions to open operations. Five patients required intervention after surgical treatment of achalasia for recurrent dysphagia including 3 who underwent between 1 and 3 pneumatic dilations; and 2 who had redo LHM with takedown of Dor fundoplication with all patients achieving complete resolution of symptoms. Conclusions Esophageal achalasia in children occurs at a much lower incidence than in adults as documented by published series describing the surgical treatment in children. We believe the MIS surgical approach remains the standard of care for this condition in children and describe the surgical outcomes and complications for LHM, as well as, the introduction of the POEM technique in our center for treating achalasia. Our institutional experience described herein represents the largest in the “MIS era” with excellent results. We will refer to alterations in our practice that have included the use of flexible endoscopy in 100% of LHM cases and use of the endoscopic functional lumen imaging probe (EndoFLIP) in both LHM and POEM cases which we believe enables adequate Heller myotomy.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1619-1622
Number of pages4
JournalJournal of Pediatric Surgery
Issue number10
StatePublished - Oct 1 2016
Externally publishedYes


  • EndoFLIP (endoscopic functional lumen imaging probe)
  • Laparoscopic Heller myotomy
  • Nissen, Dor, Thal fundoplication
  • Pediatric esophageal achalasia
  • Peroral endoscopic myotomy (POEM)

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pediatrics, Perinatology, and Child Health
  • Surgery


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