Hospitalization for esophageal achalasia in the United States

World J Gastrointest Endosc. 2015 Sep 25;7(13):1096-102. doi: 10.4253/wjge.v7.i13.1096.


Aim: To assess the outcome of different treatments in patients admitted for esophageal achalasia in the United States.

Methods: This is a retrospective analysis using the Nationwide Inpatient Sample over an 8-year period (2003-2010). Patients admitted with a primary diagnosis of achalasia were divided into 3 groups based on their treatment: (1) Group 1: patients who underwent Heller myotomy during their hospital stay; (2) Group 2: patients who underwent esophagectomy; and (3) Group 3: patients not undergoing surgical treatment. Primary outcome was in-hospital mortality. Secondary outcomes included length of stay (LOS), discharge destination and total hospital charges.

Results: Among 27141 patients admitted with achalasia, nearly half (48.5%) underwent Heller myotomy, 2.5% underwent esophagectomy and 49.0% had endoscopic or other treatment. Patients in group 1 were younger, healthier, and had the lowest mortality when compared with the other two groups. Group 2 had the highest LOS and hospital charges among all groups. Group 3 had the highest mortality (1.2%, P < 0.001) and the lowest home discharge rate (78.8%) when compared to the other groups. The most frequently performed procedures among group 3 were esophageal dilatation (25.9%) and injection (13.3%). Among patients who died in this group the most common associated morbidities included acute respiratory failure, sepsis and aspiration pneumonia.

Conclusion: Surgery for achalasia carries exceedingly low mortality in the modern era; however, in complicated patients, even less invasive treatments are burdened by significant mortality and morbidity.

Keywords: Esophageal achalasia; Myotomy; Outcomes.