Heller Myotomy Is Superior to Balloon Dilatation or Botulinum Injection in Children with Achalasia: A Two-Center Review

Jessica A. Zagory, Jamie M. Golden, Natalie E. Demeter, Yen Nguyen, Henri Ford, Nam X. Nguyen

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

17 Scopus citations


Introduction: Achalasia is an uncommon disorder in children. Currently, there is no consensus regarding the optimal treatment for achalasia. We investigate the effectiveness of symptom relief in patients who underwent endoscopic treatments versus Heller myotomy (HM). Methods: We conducted a retrospective review of all children (age 0-18 years) treated for achalasia at two pediatric hospitals from 2004 to 2014. Demographics, presenting symptoms, outcomes, and complications were analyzed. Results: Twenty-three patients (61% male) were identified with a mean age at diagnosis of 11.6 ± 5.0 years. About 47.8% of the cohort had no comorbidities. Common presenting symptoms included weight loss/failure to thrive (87.0%), emesis (69.6%), and dysphagia (69.6%). Mean time from symptom onset to diagnosis was 18 ± 18.9 months. Nine patients underwent laparoscopic HM as their primary treatment, whereas 14 received esophageal dilatation (ED) as their first-line therapy. Patients who underwent ED as their initial treatment were younger (9.92 versus 15.6 years, P = .047). Patients who underwent HM were more likely to attain symptom resolution compared to those managed with ED alone (P = .004). Of the 14 patients who underwent ED initially, 10 subsequently required HM due to persistent symptoms. None of the 4 patients who underwent ED alone achieved long-term symptom relief and, on the average, required an increased number of procedures compared to their HM counterparts (5.25 versus 2.47, P = .010). There was a trend toward increased intraoperative mucosal perforation in patients who underwent preoperative ED and botulinum injections. Conclusion: Our data suggest that HM is superior to balloon dilatation or botulinum injection in children with achalasia. We conclude that HM should be recommended for newly diagnosed children with achalasia as a first-line therapy.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)483-487
Number of pages5
JournalJournal of Laparoendoscopic and Advanced Surgical Techniques
Issue number6
StatePublished - Jun 1 2016
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Surgery


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