Gastroesophageal Reflux after Peroral Endoscopic Myotomy: Myth or Reality?


Internal Medicine

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Journal of Digestive Endoscopy


Peroral endoscopic myotomy (POEM) is an accepted treatment for achalasia cardia (AC), and results are comparable to those of laparoscopic Heller myotomy (LHM). In recent years, several reports have confirmed higher incidence of gastroesophageal reflux (GER) following POEM. This review evaluates the current evidence regarding post-POEM GER, critically examines the potential contributing factors responsible for GER, limitations of the current available functional testing, and precautions and preventive measures, and provides future directions for research. Factors conclusively contributing to increased post-POEM GER include injury to the sling fibers of the lower esophageal sphincter, length of gastric myotomy > 2 cm, and others. Historically, these same factors have been implicated for development of GER after surgical (laparoscopic) myotomy. Although less invasive, optimal technique of POEM may be important to control post-POEM GER. Most post-POEM GER occurs during the immediate post-POEM period, is mild, and is easily treatable using proton-pump inhibitors. GER incidence plateaus at 2 years and is comparable to that after LHM. Patients should therefore be prescribed proton-pump inhibitors for at least 2 years. Antireflux procedures (ARPs) are infrequently required in these patients as the incidence of refractory GER is low. Novel ARPs have been recently described and are currently under evaluation. Conclusive diagnosis of GER is a clinical challenge. Most patients are asymptomatic, and GER is diagnosed only on abnormal esophageal acid exposure (EAE). Studies have demonstrated that current measures to diagnose GER are inadequate, inaccurate, and cannot differentiate between true GER and abnormal EAE due to food fermentation in the distal esophagus. The Lyon Consensus criteria should be implemented for confirmation of diagnosis of GER. Finally, the review recommends an evidence-based clinical algorithm for evaluation and management of post-POEM GER and provides guidelines for future research in this field.

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