Achalasia is an uncommon condition that affects the muscles in your esophagus, making it hard to swallow and preventing food from reaching your stomach. At Interventional Endoscopy Associates PLLC, in Peoria, Scottsdale, and Phoenix, Arizona, Teodor Pitea, MD, and Rawad Mounzer, MD, have extensive experience diagnosing achalasia and performing minimally invasive treatments to repair the problem. To learn how you can get help for achalasia, call one of the offices or book an appointment online today.
The wall of your esophagus contains muscles that rhythmically contract to push food down to your stomach.
When food and fluids reach the end of the esophagus, the lower esophageal sphincter (LES) opens to let them go into the stomach. Then the LES closes to prevent stomach contents from getting out.
Achalasia occurs when the LES muscle fails to relax and let food pass through. In many cases, the esophageal muscles don’t contract properly.
This condition develops due to a problem in the nerves controlling the muscles.
Achalasia symptoms usually develop gradually. You may have difficulty swallowing solids and liquids or regurgitate food and have hoarseness, a cough, or chest pain due to heartburn.
Without treatment, food or liquid can get into your lungs. If that happens, you can develop serious respiratory problems such as pneumonia.
Your provider at Interventional Endoscopy Associates PLLC confirms you have achalasia through diagnostic testing.
For example, you may need a barium swallow test or an upper gastrointestinal (GI) series. After drinking a liquid containing barium, X-rays show the details of your esophagus.
Your provider may perform an endoscopy to visually examine the esophageal lining. They may also need to do an esophageal manometry test to measure the muscle contractions when you swallow.
An injection of Botox® can relax the LES muscle for about four months. But the experienced team at Interventional Endoscopy Associates PLLC use two procedures that provide longer-lasting relief:
During a POEM procedure, your provider inserts an endoscope into your esophagus. Using a small blade in the endoscope, they make a shallow incision in the lining.
They insert the scope through the space between the lining and the muscular layer of the esophagus and use specialized tools to release or cut some of the LES muscle. This procedure relieves pressure on the sphincter, letting food pass into your stomach.
With balloon dilation, your provider advances an endoscope down your esophagus and into the LES, then inflates a balloon to stretch the muscles of the sphincter.
If you develop difficulty swallowing, the team at Interventional Endoscopy Associates PLLC can help. Call or book an appointment online today.