A Rare Esophageal Disorder
miVIP Surgery Centers has innovative equipment that is capable of helping treat even rare disorders. For example, achalasia is a disorder of the esophagus, the tube that brings food to the stomach from the mouth, which prevents the food from being properly carried toward the stomach. The issue stems from the esophageal muscles and nerves that do not work correctly.
Other names for achalasia are esophageal achalasia, esophageal aperistalsis, achalasia cardiae, esophageal achalasia, cardiospasm, and esophageal aperistalsis.
How Common is Achalasia?
Achalasia is fairly rare, only affecting approximately 1 out of every 100,000 people. Many people begin showing signs of achalasia when they become young adults; however, people are often diagnosed between 25 and 60 years of age.
Known Causes of Achalasia
The lower esophageal sphincter is a muscular ring in the throat that normally relaxes when someone is swallowing. In patients with achalasia, the ring has trouble relaxing because the esophagus’ nerves are damaged. However, medical professionals do not know why this degeneration occurs in the first place.
Symptoms Attributed to Achalasia
Common symptoms associated with achalasia include:
- Difficulty swallowing
- The sensation that food is stuck in the throat or chest
- Regurgitation of liquid and food
- Chest pain
- Unintentional weight loss
- Difficulty burping
Many patients experience symptoms but do not seek medical help until they have significantly progressed. Others try to offset problems by chewing their food carefully and lifting the neck to help the food move down the esophagus.
How to Treat Achalasia
Based on the above symptoms a physician may suspect achalasia; however, the following tests are used to confirm the diagnosis:
- Barium swallow test
- Chest x-rays
- Esophageal manometry
Following a proper diagnosis, a patient may be given several achalasia treatment options. Unfortunately, none of them can cure the disorder, though they can assist in improving symptoms. Treatments include the following:
- Drug Therapy – Calcium channel blockers in conjunction with nitrates have been shown to weaken the lower esophageal sphincter. Patients are often directed to take a pill a few minutes before eating. While this method is certainly the least invasive, many patients feel that it is not an effective long-term treatment.
- Laparoscopic Heller Myotomy – The muscles of the lower esophageal sphincter and the uppermost part of the stomach are cut in order to weaken the muscle fibers. In the past, the surgery required making an incision in the chest; today miVIP uses minimally invasive technology to make small incisions that allow for an easy recovery time. 85 percent of patients report that the Laparoscopic Heller Myotomy improved symptoms 10 years following the surgery.
- Balloon Dilation – A patient swallows a balloon and, often using an x-ray, the balloon is placed at the lower esophageal sphincter. It is quickly inflated, thus ripping the muscles of the lower esophageal sphincter and loosening them. Approximately 2/3 of patients say that this procedure helps alleviate their swallowing issues.
Contact miVIP for Relief from Achalasia
While achalasia is not preventable, treatment of the issue can often help proven complications such as aspiration and pneumonia due to food backing into the lungs. If you suffer from any symptoms associated with this disorder, contact miVIP Surgery Centers today at 855-496-4847 to schedule an appointment and start diagnosis and treatment of what plagues you.
- Laporoscopic Heller Myotomy