Objective: To compare the outcome of per oral endoscopic myotomy (POEM) and laparoscopic Heller myotomy (LHM) for the treatment of esophageal achalasia.
Background: Over the last 2 decades, LHM has become the primary form of treatment in many centers. However, since the first description of POEM in 2010, this technique has widely disseminated, despite the absence of long-term results and randomized trials.
Methods: A systematic Medline literature search of articles on LHM and POEM for the treatment of achalasia was performed. The main outcomes measured were improvement of dysphagia and posttreatment gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD). Linear regression was used to model the effect of each procedure on the different outcomes.
Results: Fifty-three studies reported data on LHM (5834 patients), and 21 articles examined POEM (1958 patients). Mean follow-up was significantly longer for studies of LHM (41.5 vs. 16.2 mo, P < 0.0001). Predicted probabilities for improvement in dysphagia at 12 months were 93.5% for POEM and 91.0% for LHM (P = 0.01), and at 24 months were 92.7% for POEM and 90.0% for LHM (P = 0.01). Patients undergoing POEM were more likely to develop GERD symptoms (OR 1.69, 95% CI 1.33-2.14, P < 0.0001), GERD evidenced by erosive esophagitis (OR 9.31, 95% CI 4.71-18.85, P < 0.0001), and GERD evidenced by pH monitoring (OR 4.30, 95% CI 2.96-6.27, P < 0.0001). On average, length of hospital stay was 1.03 days longer after POEM (P = 0.04).
Conclusions: Short-term results show that POEM is more effective than LHM in relieving dysphagia, but it is associated with a very high incidence of pathologic reflux.