Acute idiopathic heart failure following laparoscopic myotomy for achalasia of the esophagus

Ochsner J. 2015 Spring;15(1):83-8.


Background: Stress-induced cardiomyopathy, also known as takotsubo cardiomyopathy, is not fully understood. It is thought to occur in patients who have signs and symptoms consistent with acute myocardial infarction but display no obstructive coronary lesions during heart catheterization. Characteristics include transient left ventricular dysfunction, wall motion abnormalities on echocardiogram, new electrocardiographic ST-segment changes, and the occurrence of a precipitating stressor.

Case report: We present a patient who underwent Heller myotomy and suffered acute heart failure in the immediate postoperative period. Left heart catheterization revealed clean coronary arteries, and the patient fully recovered days later. While difficult to fully exclude drug-related causes, we believe this case to be consistent with takotsubo cardiomyopathy.

Conclusion: This unusual postoperative complication following uneventful laparoscopic surgery should be kept in mind when unsuspected cardiovascular compromise is seen in the early perioperative recovery period. In addition to the rare occurrence of acute coronary ischemia syndromes and possible perioperative pulmonary embolic events, cardiovascular decompensation related to acute stress syndromes or idiopathic pharmacologic responses must be considered. Even patients who seem most healthy can have complications that warrant immediate attention and treatment.

Keywords: Cardiomyopathy–stress; Heller myotomy; esophageal achalasia; laparoscopy; takotsubo cardiomyopathy.

Publication types

  • Case Reports