About Achalasia

A Rare Esophageal Disorder

miVIP Surgery Centers has innovative equipment that is capable of helping treat even rare disorders. For example, achalasia is a rare disorder of the esophagus, the tube that carries food to the stomach from the mouth. Achalasia occurs when the esophageal muscles and nerves 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 in young adulthood; however, people are often diagnosed between 25 and 60 years of age.

Causes of the Condition

The lower esophageal sphincter (LES) is a muscular ring in the throat or lower end of the esophagus that normally relaxes when a person is swallowing. In patients with achalasia, the LES has trouble relaxing because the esophagus’ nerves are damaged. Medical professionals are not certain why this degeneration or malfunction of the LES occurs.

Symptoms

Common symptoms associated with achalasia include:

  • Difficulty swallowing
  • The sensation that food is stuck in the throat or chest
  • Acid reflux, or regurgitation of liquid and food
  • Heartburn
  • Chest pain
  • Cough
  • Unintentional weight loss
  • Difficulty burping
  • Hiccups

Many patients that experience symptoms do not seek medical help until the problems 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.

Diagnosing and Treating Achalasia

The following tests are used to confirm the diagnosis:

  • Endoscopy
  • Barium swallow test
  • Chest x-rays
  • Esophageal manometry

Following a proper diagnosis, a patient may be given several treatment options. While none of the available treatments can cure the disorder, they can improve symptoms. Treatments include:

  • 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 specially designed balloon that has not yet been inflicted. The doctor uses x-ray scanning to position the balloon at the lower esophageal sphincter. It is then inflated to loosen the muscles of the lower esophageal sphincter. 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 reduce associated 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 for evaluation, diagnosis and treatment.

Procedures:

  • Laporoscopic Heller Myotomy