Diagnosis & Treatment of Achalasia

Achalasia is a rare condition in which the valve between the esophagus and the stomach does not open properly and allows food to collect at the base of the esophagus. To diagnose this condition, we use endoscopy, x-rays of the esophagus, and tests to measure pressure within the esophagus.

If you have achalasia, we may recommend that you receive injections of botulinum toxin (Botox) into the sphincter that separates the stomach and the esophagus. The drug paralyzes and relaxes the muscle, allowing you to swallow normally. Endoscopic therapy, which involves dilating or stretching the sphincter to allow food to pass through the esophagus, can also be effective.

However, because the effects of these treatments are often temporary, our doctors usually recommend surgery if you have ongoing discomfort.

Surgery for Achalasia

Surgery is the most effective treatment for people with achalasia. Our surgeons use a procedure called a Heller myotomy, which involves thinning out the abnormally thickened muscle surrounding the esophageal valve. This approach allows liquid and food to pass normally through the esophagus and dramatically improves quality of life for many people with achalasia.

If you also have symptoms of GERD, we may perform a fundoplication procedure to strengthen valve between the esophagus and the stomach at the same time as this surgery.

Both procedures are performed with minimally invasive laparoscopic and robotic techniques.