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Laparoscopic Heller myotomy for achalasia facilitated by robotic assistance

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Laparoscopic Heller myotomy is the standard operation for achalasia. The incidence of esophageal perforation is approximately 5% to 10%. Data about the safety and utility of robotically assisted Heller myotomy (RAHM) are scarce. The aim of this study was to assess the efficacy and safety of RAHM for the treatment of esophageal achalasia.


From a prospectively maintained database, demographic data, symptoms, esophagograms, manometries, and perioperative data from all the RAHMs performed between September 2002 and February 2004 were analyzed.


A total of 54 patients underwent RAHM, including 26 men. The mean age of these patients was 43 years (range, 14–75 years). Dysphagia was present in 100% of the patients. Of the 54 patients, 26 (48%) had undergone previous treatment including pneumatic dilation (17 patients), Botox injections (4 patients), or both of these treatments (5 patients). The dissection was performed laparoscopically, and the myotomy was performed with robotic assistance. The operative time, including the robot setup time, averaged 162 min (range, 62–210 min). Blood loss averaged 24 ml. No mucosal perforations were observed. The hospital length of stay was 1.5 days. There were no deaths. At 17 months, 93% of the patients had relief of their dysphagia.


The findings showed RAHM to be safe and effective, with a 0% incidence of perforation and relief of symptoms for 91% of the patients.

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This study was supported in part by a grant provided by Intuitive Surgical Company.

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Correspondence to S. Horgan.

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Galvani, C., Gorodner, M.V., Moser, F. et al. Laparoscopic Heller myotomy for achalasia facilitated by robotic assistance. Surg Endosc 20, 1105–1112 (2006).

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  • Achalasia
  • Esophageal perforation
  • Heller myotomy
  • Robotic surgery