Treatment of achalasia in the bariatric surgery population: a systematic review and single-institution experience

Trevor D. Crafts, Victoria Lyo, Priya Rajdev, Stephanie G. Wood

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

4 Scopus citations


Background: Although the link between achalasia and morbid obesity is unclear, the reported prevalence is 0.5–1% in this population. For bariatric surgery patients, optimal type and timing of achalasia intervention is uncertain. Methods: Patient charts from a single academic institution were retrospectively reviewed. Between 2012 and 2019, 245 patients were diagnosed with achalasia, 13 of whom underwent bariatric surgery and were included. Patients were divided into two groups depending on the timing of their achalasia diagnosis and bariatric surgery. Groups were compared in terms of type and timing of intervention as well as treatment response. Results: Group 1 included 4 patients diagnosed with achalasia before bariatric surgery. Three had laparoscopic Heller myotomy (LHM) and 1 had a per oral endoscopic myotomy (POEM). These patients had laparoscopic gastric bypass (LGB) within 5 years of achalasia diagnosis. Postoperatively, 1 had severe reflux with regurgitation necessitating radiofrequency energy application to the lower esophageal sphincter. All had relief from dysphagia. Group 2 included 9 patients diagnosed with achalasia after bariatric surgery. Achalasia subtypes were evenly distributed. Initial operations were: 5 LGB, 2 laparoscopic sleeve gastrectomy (LSG), 1 duodenal switch (DS), 1 lap band. One LSG patient was converted to LGB concurrently with LHM. On average, achalasia was diagnosed 8.3 years after bariatric surgery. Achalasia interventions included: 1 pneumatic dilation, 1 Botox injection, 1 POEM, 6 LHM. While LHM was the most common procedure, 4 of 6 patients experienced recurrent dysphagia, one of whom required esophagectomy. Conclusions: Achalasia is a challenging problem in the bariatric surgery population. Recurrent symptoms are common. Patients treated for achalasia after bariatric surgery tended to have worse symptom resolution than those diagnosed prior to bariatric surgery. Additional prospective studies are needed to elucidate whether interventions for achalasia should be performed concurrently or in a particular sequence for optimal results.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)5203-5216
Number of pages14
JournalSurgical endoscopy
Issue number9
StatePublished - Sep 2021


  • Achalasia
  • Bariatric
  • Dysphagia
  • Heller
  • Myotomy
  • POEM

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Surgery


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