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How We Treat Achalasia

Achalasia can cause symptoms that mimic those related to gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD). However, medications and other therapies that physicians use to treat GERD are ineffective for achalasia because of the underlying cause of the condition.

Our gastroenterology team at Center for Advanced Surgery, with locations in Dallas and Plano, Texas, combines unequaled skill with some of the most sophisticated technology available to accurately diagnose and treat conditions related to your digestive tract, including achalasia.

Our highly skilled experts provide outstanding care in a patient-focused environment that inspires trust and delivers stellar results. Learn more about achalasia and how our dedicated physicians use surgical and nonsurgical therapies to relieve your symptoms.

Understanding achalasia

Medically defined as a swallowing or motility disorder, achalasia interferes with the normal function of the lower esophageal sphincter (LES). This ring of muscular tissue lies at the bottom of the long tube (esophagus) that food passes through on its way from your mouth to your stomach.

When it’s healthy, the LES relaxes when you swallow, allowing foods and liquids to pass into the stomach. When you have achalasia, the LES does not relax. This causes food to lodge in your esophagus and creates the symptoms associated with achalasia.

How does achalasia compare to GERD?

GERD causes the foods and beverages you consume to reflux or backwash from the stomach into the esophagus. This leads to irritation of the tissue lining the esophagus and is related to an underactive LES, which remains open rather than closing tightly after you swallow.

When you have achalasia, the food you consume never reaches your stomach. It remains lodged in the esophagus. 

Symptoms of achalasia include:

Because these symptoms very closely mimic those related to GERD, but effective treatment for these two disorders varies greatly, an accurate diagnosis of the underlying cause of your discomfort is vital.

How do you diagnose and treat achalasia?

At the Center for Advanced Surgery, we use state-of-the-art technology to accurately diagnose and effectively treat swallowing/motility disorders such as achalasia.

Our diagnostic tools include:

Esophageal manometry and high-resolution manometry

This study measures the muscle contractions in your esophagus when you swallow and how well your LES relaxes and opens when you swallow.

Esophagram

This imaging study provides a silhouette view of your esophagus, stomach, and upper intestine.

Upper endoscopy

During an upper endoscopy, your provider uses a thin, flexible tube fitted with a light and camera (endoscope) to examine the inside of your esophagus and stomach.

Unfortunately, achalasia cannot be cured. However, effective treatment can help manage the disorder and relieve your discomfort.

Depending on the extent of your condition and nature of your symptoms, we offer several treatment options. We may recommend:

Pneumatic dilation

During this procedure, your provider inserts a medical “balloon” via endoscopy into the center of the esophageal sphincter and inflates it to enlarge the opening.

Heller myotomy

During a Heller myotomy, your surgeon cuts the muscle of the LES, which allows food to pass more easily into the stomach.

Peroral endoscopic myotomy (POEM)

This variation of a myotomy is performed via an endoscope inserted through your mouth and down your throat, through which your surgeon cuts the malfunctioning LES muscle.

At the Center for Advanced Surgery, we design the most effective treatment strategies available, based on your unique circumstances and needs, which may include surgical or nonsurgical solutions for achalasia.

To receive an accurate diagnosis and proper treatment for your digestive issues, schedule a visit at the Center for Advanced Surgery today.

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