, Volume 11, Issue 3, pp 309-313
Date: 19 Jan 2007

Relief of Dysphagia after Laparoscopic Heller Myotomy Improves Long-Term Quality of Life

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Background and Objective

Quality of life (QoL) is getting more attention in the medical literature. Treatment outcomes are now gauged by their effect on the QoL along with their direct effect on the diseases they are targeting. The aim of the study was to assess the impact of residual dysphagia on QoL after laparoscopic Heller myotomy for achalasia.


QoL was evaluated using the short-form-36 (SF-36) and postoperative dysphagia was assessed using a dysphagia score. The score (range 0–10) was calculated by combining the frequency of dysphagia (0=never, 1 = < 1 day/wk, 2 = 1 day/wk, 3 = 2–3 days/wk, 4 = 4–6 days/wk, 5=daily) with the severity (0=none, 1=very mild, 2=mild, 3=moderate, 4=moderately severe, 5=severe). Patients were classified in the Nonresponder group when their dysphagia score was in the upper quartile.


Questionnaires were mailed to 110 patients. The overall response rate was 91% with 100 patients (54 female) returning the questionnaires. The average follow-up was 3.3 years. There was a significative inverse correlation between dysphagia score and mental component (P = 0.0001) and total SF-36 (P = 0.001) scores. According to their postoperative dysphagia scores, 77 patients were assigned to the Responder Group and 23 patients to the Nonresponder Group. The two groups were similar in terms of age, gender, rate of fundoplication, and length of follow-up. Mental component and total SF-36 scores were significantly (P < 0.05) higher in the Responder group. Successful relief of dysphagia after Heller myotomy was associated with health-related quality of life scores that were 13 higher in Vitality (P < 0.05), 11 points higher in mental health (P < 0.05), and 12 points higher in General Health (P < 0.05). Overall patient satisfaction with surgical outcome was 92%, with only eight patients not satisfied with the surgery.


Laparoscopic Heller myotomy offers excellent long-term relief of achalasia-related symptoms, namely dysphagia, and this was projected on a significant improvement in quality of life and patient satisfaction.