Achalasia is a primary esophageal motility disorder characterized by failure of the lower esophagus to empty normally. The cause is unknown and patients often describe debilitating lifestyles with inability to eat solids or liquids and significant weight loss.
Treatment is directed at relieving the outflow obstruction caused by failure of the lower esophageal sphincter to relax. Options include Botox injection, balloon dilation, and surgical or Heller myotomy. Botox injection effects are temporary and balloon dilation therapy also has shortened efficacy in younger patients and risks perforating the esophagus, which can be distrastrous. Heller myotomy or dividing the offending esophageal muscle is the gold standard treatment for Achalasia. Surgery used to be performed either through a large abdominal or thoracic incision. Now, Heller myotomy is done minimally invasively using laparoscopy and/or Robotic assisted technology. The results are excellent with average hospital stays of 1-2 days, minimal pain, immediate relief of obstruction, and fast recovery to daily activity and work.