The Modern Age of POEM: the Past, Present and Future of Per-Oral Endoscopic Myotomy

J Gastrointest Surg. 2021 Feb;25(2):551-557. doi: 10.1007/s11605-020-04815-z. Epub 2020 Nov 2.


Background: Per-oral endoscopic myotomy (POEM) has gained widespread enthusiasm amongst foregut specialists since its introduction in the mid 2000s as an effective and less invasive treatment option for achalasia. As more than 6000 POEM procedures have been performed to date throughout the world, we aim to summarize the history and current state of POEM in the treatment of esophageal motility disorders.

Methods: We performed a comprehensive review of the published literature focusing on the history and development of the POEM procedure, and its most current applications and outcomes.

Results: Multiple favorable long-term studies have been published advocating for the use of POEM as a valid and perhaps the most valid treatment option for achalasia. The procedure is also increasingly being applied to a wider spectrum of esophageal motility disorders including type III achalasia, spastic esophageal disease or isolated lower esophageal sphincter (LES) dysfunction, as well as new endoluminal procedures such as submucosal tumor endoscopic resection (STER), endoscopic fundoplications (POEM-F) and peroral pyloromyotomy (POP or G-POEM).

Conclusions: While POEM is a proved and valid procedure, its further adoption is being threatened by external factors: challenges related to teaching, institutional support (politics) and insurance reimbursement. While this technique has come an incredible distance in its relatively short lifespan, the future of POEM in the USA will depend on the support from surgical societies to validate it as a valuable tool in the esophageal specialist's armamentarium, and to encourage a commitment to training in endoluminal surgery.

Keywords: Esophageal myotomy; Heller; POEM; Review.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Esophageal Achalasia* / surgery
  • Esophageal Motility Disorders* / surgery
  • Esophageal Sphincter, Lower / surgery
  • Esophagoscopy
  • Humans
  • Natural Orifice Endoscopic Surgery*
  • Pyloromyotomy*
  • Treatment Outcome