Long-term dysphagia resolution following POEM versus Heller myotomy for achalasia patients

Grace E. Shea, Morgan K. Johnson, Manasa Venkatesh, Sally A. Jolles, Tyler M. Prout, Amber L. Shada, Jacob A. Greenberg, Anne O. Lidor, Luke M. Funk

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

10 Scopus citations


Background: Heller myotomy (HM) has historically been considered the gold standard treatment for achalasia. Peroral endoscopic myotomy (POEM) is a less-invasive procedure and offers a quicker recovery. Although some studies have compared short-term outcomes of HM and POEM, predictors of long-term dysphagia resolution remain unclear. The objective of this study was to evaluate patient-reported outcomes for achalasia patients who underwent either POEM or HM over a 9-year period. Methods: Data from our single academic institutional foregut database were used to identify achalasia patients who underwent HM or POEM from 2009 to 2018. Electronic health record data were reviewed to obtain patient characteristics and operative data. Achalasia severity stages were established for each patient using esophagram findings from an attending radiologist blinded to the procedure type. Postoperative outcomes were assessed via telephone for patients with at least 9 months of follow-up using Eckardt dysphagia scores. Patient age, sex, type of operation, and duration of follow-up were included in a multivariable linear regression model with Eckardt score as the outcome. Results: Our cohort included 141 patients (97 HM and 44 POEM). Eighty-two patients completed a phone survey at the 9 months or greater time interval (response rate = 58%). Mean Eckardt scores were 2.98 and 2.53 at a median follow-up of 3 years and 1 year for HM and POEM patients, respectively (an Eckardt score ≤ 3 is considered a successful myotomy). Lower stages of achalasia on esophagram (e.g., Stage 0 vs. Stage 4) were associated with greater dysphagia improvement. On multivariable analysis, operative approach was not associated with a statistically significant difference in dysphagia outcomes. Conclusions: POEM and HM were associated with similar rates of dysphagia resolution for achalasia patients at a median of 2 years of follow-up. Both procedures appear to be durable options for achalasia treatment.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1704-1711
Number of pages8
JournalSurgical endoscopy
Issue number4
StatePublished - Apr 1 2020
Externally publishedYes


  • Achalasia
  • Dysphagia
  • Heller myotomy
  • POEM

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Surgery


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