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Clinical Trial
. 1999 Sep;31(7):517-21.
doi: 10.1055/s-1999-56.

Esophageal Achalasia: Intrasphincteric Injection of Botulinum Toxin A Versus Balloon Dilation

Clinical Trial

Esophageal Achalasia: Intrasphincteric Injection of Botulinum Toxin A Versus Balloon Dilation

S M Muehldorfer et al. Endoscopy. .


Background and study aims: In patients with esophageal achalasia, pneumatic dilation is the treatment of choice, but it bears the risk of perforation in about 4% of cases. A new nonsurgical method, intrasphincteric injection of botulinum toxin A, has shown promising initial results, and we thus undertook this study to compare the long-term outcome of these two methods.

Patients and methods: In a prospective randomized study, 24 patients with definitive esophageal achalasia were divided into two equal groups and underwent either balloon dilation or injection of botulinum toxin (20 U injected into each of the four quadrants in the lower esophageal sphincter). The outcome was assessed on the basis of a symptom score documented before treatment and at regular intervals for two and a half years thereafter. Complications associated with the two techniques were also documented.

Results: No relevant complication occurred in either of the treatment groups. Initially, dilation was successful in 10 of 12 patients (83%), and botulinum toxin injection in 9 of 12 patients (75%). The symptom scores showed no significant differences between the two groups before and one month after treatment. Over the two and a half year follow-up, however, all nine successfully treated patients in the botulinum toxin group experienced recurrence of symptoms, but only four of the ten patients (40%) in the dilation group.

Conclusions: The two treatment methods initially had equal success rates, but in the long term the effect of the botulinum toxin injection was statistically significantly shorter than that of balloon dilation. As fewer risks are associated with the injection treatment, studies should be undertaken either to identify patient subgroups in whom botulinum toxin can be effective long-term or to test substances with longer-lasting effects.

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