Achalasia is a rare motility disorder of the oesophagus characterised by loss of enteric neurons leading to absence of peristalsis and impaired relaxation of the lower oesophageal sphincter. Although its cause remains largely unknown, ganglionitis resulting from an aberrant immune response triggered by a viral infection has been proposed to underlie the loss of oesophageal neurons, particularly in genetically susceptible individuals. The subsequent stasis of ingested food not only leads to symptoms of dysphagia, regurgitation, chest pain, and weight loss, but also results in an increased risk of oesophageal carcinoma. At present, pneumatic dilatation and Heller myotomy combined with an anti-reflux procedure are the treatments of choice and have comparable success rates. Per-oral endoscopic myotomy has recently been introduced as a new minimally invasive treatment for achalasia, but there have not yet been any randomised clinical trials comparing this option with pneumatic dilatation and Heller myotomy.
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