Achalasia is a rare movement disorder of the esophagus affecting men and women equally, and tends to occur more frequently in middle-age individuals.
Achalasia is a rare motility disorder of the esophagus. This disorder is characterized by the inability of the lower esophageal sphincter (LES) to relax when eating and impaired ability of the esophagus to push food into the stomach (peristalsis). Achalasia affects men and women equally, and tends to occur more frequently in middle age individuals. It is not known what causes achalasia. Unfortunately, achalasia does not have a cure. Only the symptoms can be managed.
The gold standard for diagnosing achalasia is a high-resolution manometry test. It involves a tube that is placed in the nose and sits in the esophagus, designed to measure the pressures in the esophagus during swallows. Other diagnostic tests include video barium swallow and upper endoscopy.
Our team of experts will conduct a thorough diagnostic workup to customize a treatment plan that is right for you. It is important to remember that there is no cure for achalasia; treatment options are aimed at relaxing the lower esophageal sphincter. There is no method to restore the motility of your esophagus. Your treatment plan may include:
Medications: Certain medications may help the LES relax.
Botox Injections: BOTOX can be injected into the LES in order to relax the sphincter muscle. Results are often short-term, and injections may need to be repeated every 6 months.
Balloon dilation: The esophagus can be dilated with a balloon at the time of upper endoscopy. Results are also short-term, but may provide symptom relief and improve the ability to swallow.
Surgery: Surgery can be effective long-term for certain qualified individuals. The surgery, called a Heller myotomy, is performed laparoscopically (small incisions on the abdomen). It involves cutting the muscles of the esophagus in order to allow it to relax, and then rebuilding the valve to prevent acid reflux.
Care Team Approach
Digestive Health, a clinical partnership between Ascension Seton and UT Health Austin, takes a multidisciplinary approach to your care. This means you will benefit from the expertise of multiple specialists across a variety of disciplines. Your care team will include gastroenterologists, surgical and non-surgical heartburn and esophageal disorders specialists, physician assistants, nurses, advanced practice providers, dietitians, social workers, and more, providing unparalleled care for patients every step of the way. We collaborate with our colleagues at the Dell Medical School and The University of Texas at Austin to utilize the latest research, diagnostic, and treatment techniques, allowing us to identify new therapies to improve treatment outcomes. We are committed to communicating and coordinating your care with your other healthcare providers to ensure that we are providing you with comprehensive, whole-person care.