Review Article

Achalasia: Insights into Diagnostic and Therapeutic Advances for an Ancient Disease

Amir Mari, Kalp Patel, Mahmud Mahamid, Tawfik Khoury, and Marcella Pesce


Achalasia is a chronic idiopathic disease characterized by the absence of esophageal body peristalsis and by defective lower esophageal sphincter (LES) relaxation. The incidence rate ranges from 1.07 to up to 2.8 new cases per year per 100,000 population. Presenting symptoms include dysphagia, regurgitation, vomiting, and weight loss. The diagnosis of achalasia has undergone a revolution in the last decade due to the advent of high-resolution manometry (HRM) and the consequent development of the Chicago Classification. Recent progress has allowed achalasia to be more precisely diagnosed and to be categorized into three subtypes, based on the prevalent manometric features of the esophageal peristalsis. Treatment options are pharmacotherapy, endoscopic management (Botox injection or pneumatic dilation), and surgery, e.g. laparoscopic Heller myotomy (LHM). More recently, a new endoscopic technique, per oral endoscopic myotomy (POEM), has developed as a less invasive approach alternative to the traditional LHM. Since the first POEM procedure was performed in 2008, increasing evidence is accumulating regarding its efficacy and safety profiles. Currently, POEM is being introduced as a reasonable therapeutic option, though randomized controlled trails are still lacking. The current review sheds light onto the diagnosis and manageĀ¬ment of achalasia, with special focus on the recent advances of HRM and POEM.

Rambam Maimonides Med J 2019;10(1):e0008