, Volume 18, Issue 1, pp 106-112
Date: 10 Sep 2013

Laparoscopic Heller Myotomy Can Be Used As Primary Therapy for Esophageal Achalasia Regardless of Age

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Laparoscopic Heller-Dor surgery is the current treatment of choice for patients with esophageal achalasia, but elderly patients are generally referred for less invasive treatments (pneumatic dilations or botulinum toxin injections).


To assess the effect of age on the surgical outcome of patients receiving laparoscopic Heller-Dor as primary treatment.


Demographic and clinical findings were prospectively collected on patients undergoing laparoscopic Heller-Dor from 1992 to 2012. Patients were classified in three age brackets: group A (≤45 years), group B (45–70), and group C (≥70). Treatment was defined as a failure if the postoperative symptom score was >10th percentile of the preoperative score (i.e., >8). We consecutively performed the Heller-Dor in 571 achalasia patients, 305 (53.4 %) in group A, 226 (39.6 %) in group B, and 40 (7 %) in group C.


The mortality was nil; the conversion and morbidity rates were both 1.1 %. Group C patients had higher preoperative symptom scores (p = 0.02), while the symptom duration was similar in all three groups. Mucosal tears occurred in 17 patients (3 %): 6 (2 %) in group A, 8 (3.5 %) in group B, and 3 (7.5 %) in group C (p = 0.09). The postoperative hospital stay was slightly longer for group C (p = 0.06).


The treatment failure rate was quite similar: 31 failures in group A (10.1 %), 19 in group B (8.4 %), and 3 in group C (7.5 %; p = 0.80). These failures were seen more in manometric pattern III (22.2 %, p = 0.002). Laparoscopic Heller-Dor can be used as the first therapeutic approach to achalasia even in elderly patients with an acceptable surgical risk.

Presented at the Digestive Disease Week and the 28th Annual SSAT Residents and Fellows Research Conference in Orlando, FL, USA on May 2013.