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Understanding POEM

If you’ve been diagnosed with a swallowing disorder like achalasia, you can’t maintain this essential bodily function on your own. Swallowing is an essential part of hydration and nutrition, and problems with swallowing are uncomfortable and have many potential complications.

The team at the Center for Advanced Surgery can help. Board-certified gastroesophageal surgeons Dr. Marc Ward and Dr. Steven Leeds provide advanced treatment for swallowing disorders to patients in and around Dallas, Plano, and Tyler, Texas.

We may recommend a minimally invasive, incisionless surgical procedure called per oral endoscopic myotomy (POEM). POEM may be helpful for patients with gastroesophageal reflux disease, a hiatal hernia, or achalasia. Here’s what Dr. Ward and Dr. Leeds want you to understand about the POEM procedure.

Incisionless surgery

POEM doesn’t require an incision into your throat or abdomen. Instead, the team at the Center for Advanced Surgery accesses your esophagus and lower esophageal sphincter endoscopically.

If your lower esophageal sphincter can’t relax enough for you to swallow food due to achalasia, POEM treatment can allow you to eat more normally by opening tight esophageal muscles.

During your procedure, your provider at the Center for Advanced Surgery inserts an endoscope — a thin, flexible tube tipped by a specialized camera — into your esophagus. 

The endoscope enters your lower esophageal sphincter. Images from the endoscopic camera guide your treatment, making a large incision or opening unnecessary for your surgical operation.

With an endoscopic device, your provider makes tiny incisions in the tight or spasming lower esophageal muscles, causing the area to relax and your sphincter to loosen. Small clips keep your muscles opened, preventing your swallowing disorder from recurring.

Rapid recovery and real results

Minimally invasive POEM treatment is a safe and effective approach for swallowing disorders. Endoscopic procedures like POEM surgery don’t have high risks of complications, and they allow for a shorter recovery time than more invasive types of surgical procedures.

Before your surgery, you may need to follow a liquid diet for two days, and abstain from food or drink for the 12 hours immediately preceding your appointment. 

After your procedure, we use a barium X-ray to check that your esophagus is functioning fully and normally. You may need to stay overnight in the hospital for observation after POEM. 

Your provider at the Center for Advanced Surgery checks up on you again after about 10 days to ensure that your procedure is a success.

If you’re struggling to swallow your food, or experiencing pain or distress when you try to swallow, get in touch with Dr. Leeds and Dr. Ward at the Center for Advanced Surgery today to find out if you could be a good candidate for treatment with a POEM procedure. 

Schedule your appointment over the phone, or request your appointment online now.

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