Heller Myotomy for Achalasia
Heller myotomy is a surgical procedure that is performed to relax muscles in the esophagus to alleviate achalasia. At Long Island Laparoscopic Doctors, our surgeons perform this procedure robotically, resulting in reduced scarring and a faster recovery.
What is Achalasia?
Achalasia is a Trusted Source Achalasia Hopkins Medicine Go to Source rare swallowing disorder caused by a lack of relaxation in the lower esophageal sphincter muscles. The lower esophageal sphincter is closed when we aren’t eating, which prevents food and stomach acid from moving back up into the esophagus. When we swallow, this sphincter should relax so that food and liquids can enter the stomach. In people with alachasia, the sphincter remains tight, preventing food from moving into the stomach.
Symptoms of Achalasia
Symptoms of achalasia may include:
- Difficulty swallowing (dysphagia)
- Food or liquid becoming stuck in the throat
- Intermittent chest pain
- Coughing at nighttime
- Weight loss
What To Expect From This Procedure
Preparing for Heller Myotomy
If you have been diagnosed with achalasia and your doctor has deemed a Heller myotomy to be the best treatment option for you, your surgery will be scheduled and you will be given detailed pre- and postoperative instructions.
The Heller Myotomy Procedure
A Heller myotomy is a minimally invasive surgical procedure performed under general anesthesia. A number of very small incisions are made above the belly button and the abdomen is filled with gas so that the surgeon has a clear view of the surgical area. Small surgical instruments and a video camera are inserted through the incisions, giving the surgeon visibility and access to the esophagus. The layers of muscle in the esophagus are divided so that the surgeon can access any stiff tissue that is leading to achalasia, then small cuts are made to alleviate pressure in these areas.
Recovery After Heller Myotomy
Patients remain in the hospital overnight after their Heller myotomy, and will occasionally undergo an X-ray with contrast so their surgeon can examine their esophagus. Patients will need to adhere to a soft food diet as their esophagus heals, but should be able to get back to their normal activities within a day or two.
1 Hopkins Medicine. Achalasia. Available: https://www.hopkinsmedicine.org/health/conditions-and-diseases/achalasia. Accessed January 16, 2023.
2 Mayo Clinic. Achalasia. Available: https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/achalasia/symptoms-causes/syc-20352850#:~:text=Achalasia%20occurs%20when%20nerves%20in,mouth%2C%20which%20can%20taste%20bitter. Accessed January 16, 2023.
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