POEM or Per Oral Endoscopic Myotomy

Per Oral Endoscopic Myotomy (POEM) is a non-invasive form of treatment for esophageal achalasia, a disorder that develops in esophagus, the tube that connects the mouth and throat to the stomach. Achalasia prevents the esophagus from properly moving food towards the stomach, inhibiting one’s ability to swallow.

Esophageal achalasia develops when the valve that separates the stomach from the esophagus called the lower esophageal sphincter (LES) loses its ability to relax properly. This most commonly develops as a result of nerve damage to the esophagus, but can also occur due to cancer or parasitic infection.

Symptoms of esophageal achalasia include:

  • Difficulty swallowing food and liquids
  • Chronic regurgitation
  • Chest pain
  • Lingering cough
  • Heartburn
  • Unexplained weight loss

Usually, achalasia is diagnosed with esophageal manometry, which evaluates the movement (motility) and pressure of the esophagus.

GI Surgical Specialists offers non-invasive treatment for esophageal achalasia with POEM, or Per Oral Endoscopic Myotomy, as well as laparoscopic Heller myotomy.

The POEM Procedure

Per Oral Endoscopic Myotomy addresses achalasia by relieving pressure from the muscular fibers within the esophagus that prevent the LES from relaxing.

The POEM procedure is incisionless, meaning no external incisions are necessary to complete the procedure. The entire operation is conducted orally, or through the mouth with the use of an endoscope, a long, flexible tube equipped with a light, camera and other surgical devices.

Incisionless procedures have many benefits over traditional, open operations, including:

  • Faster recovery time
  • No external scarring
  • Shorter hospital stay
  • Reduced risk of complication or infection

During the POEM procedure, patients are kept under general anesthesia and generally remain in the hospital overnight. Once you are able to properly swallow you will be permitted to return home. Patients can expect rapid improvement in their ability to swallow following the POEM procedure.