The optimal treatment of achalasia includes several options and presents a challenge for most gastroenterologists. There are numerous patient variables that must be assessed including age, degree of symptoms, duration of disease, desires of each patient, and related comorbidities. Treatment includes both medical and surgical options, with medical therapy further subclassified into pharmacologic and pneumatic dilation. Pneumatic dilations with a polyethylene dilator (sizes of 3.0, 3.5, and 4.0 cm) and laparoscopic myotomy represent the most common forms of therapy. A graduated increase in dilator size, based on symptomatic response, minimizes complications and is successful in more than 90% of patients. Further dilations or adjustment of pharmacologic therapy should be based on symptoms, weight gain, and a timed barium meal. Referral for myotomy should be considered for patients who do not respond to medical therapy or individuals that do not desire pneumatic dilations. Most patients responding to botulinum toxin (Botox; Allergan, Irvine, CA) injections will require repeat treatment at 3- to 6-month intervals. Due to cost constraints, Botox therapy should be reserved for patients who are at an increased risk from possible complications of a dilation or surgery, or those with less than 2 years of life expectancy. The most cost-effective course of therapy per patient cured over a 5-year period is pneumatic dilation, then Botox, and finally laparoscopic myotomy.
KeywordsBotulinum Toxin Achalasia Main Drug Interaction Esophageal Perforation Lower Esophageal Sphincter Pressure
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References and Recommended Reading
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