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Achalasia Treatment

Through Laparoscopic Heller Myotomy Esophageal Surgery
December 2, 2008
3:00 PM CST
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From Northwestern Memorial Hospital, Chicago, Illinois
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Achalasia is a rare esophageal disease that affects thousands of people in the United States, most of whom are in their 20s to 50s, and often presents symptoms that mimic those of acid reflux, such as difficulty swallowing, heart burn and chest pain. Difficult to diagnose and often mismanaged, achalasia is the inability of the muscles in the lower esophageal sphincter to relax during swallowing in order to move food down the esophagus and into the stomach.

Nathaniel Soper, MD, renowned gastrointestinal surgeon and chief of surgery at Northwestern Memorial Hospital, will perform a minimally invasive surgery to treat achalasia, called Laparoscopic Heller Myotomy, during a live interactive webcast on Tuesday, December 2, at 3 p.m.  MORE...
Achalasia is a rare esophageal disease that affects thousands of people in the United States, most of whom are in their 20s to 50s, and often presents symptoms that mimic those of acid reflux, such as difficulty swallowing, heart burn and chest pain. Difficult to diagnose and often mismanaged, achalasia is the inability of the muscles in the lower esophageal sphincter to relax during swallowing in order to move food down the esophagus and into the stomach.

Nathaniel Soper, MD, renowned gastrointestinal surgeon and chief of surgery at Northwestern Memorial Hospital, will perform a minimally invasive surgery to treat achalasia, called Laparoscopic Heller Myotomy, during a live interactive webcast on Tuesday, December 2, at 3 p.m.

Dr. Soper and a team of surgeons at Northwestern Memorial perform 50-100 operations per year to treat achalasia, which is more than any other center in Illinois. "This minimally invasive procedure is the best option for patients with achalasia as medication typically has no effect, and endoscopic treatments often must be frequently repeated," said Dr. Soper. "Surgery involves cutting the esophageal sphincter muscle to allow food and liquid to flow into the stomach and provides immediate improvement in most patients."

The surgery to correct achalasia limits complications and allows most patients to return to work and daily activities within a week following surgery.

Dr. Soper has been at the forefront of less-invasive surgical alternatives and joined the Minimally Invasive Surgery Program at Northwestern Memorial in 2003. As director of the program, he has been instrumental in pioneering minimally invasive procedures in Chicago, including natural orifice transluminal endoscopic surgery, or NOTES, which involves the removal of organs through the mouth or vagina.

"Minimally invasive surgeries are the wave of the future," adds Dr. Soper. "There has been an upward trend in these types of operations over the last 20 years and I think we will continue to see more traditional surgeries becoming less invasive."

For a complete list of Northwestern Memorial Hospital webcasts, visit ihealth.nmh.org.

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