Surgical Endoscopy

, Volume 33, Issue 10, pp 3355–3360 | Cite as

Heller myotomy is the optimal index procedure for esophageal achalasia in adolescents and young adults

  • Ya-Ching Hung
  • Maggie L. Westfal
  • David C. Chang
  • Cassandra M. KelleherEmail author



There is limited and conflicting data on the optimal intervention for the treatment of achalasia in adolescents and young adults (AYA), Heller myotomy (HM), esophageal dilation (ED) or botulinum toxin injection (botox). The goal of this study is to determine the most appropriate index intervention for achalasia in the AYA population.


We completed a longitudinal, population-based analysis of the California (2005–2010) and New York (1999–2014) statewide databases. We included patients 9–25 years old with achalasia who underwent HM, ED or botox. Comparisons were made based on the patients’ index procedure. Rates of 30-day complications, long-term complications, and re-intervention up to 14 years were calculated. Cox regression was performed to determine the risk of re-intervention, adjusting for patient demographics.


A total of 442 AYAs were analyzed, representing the largest cohort of young patients with this disease studied to date. Median follow-up was 5.2 years (IQR 1.8–8.0). The overall rate of re-intervention was 29.3%. Rates of re-intervention for ED and botox were equivalent and higher than HM (65.0% for ED, 47.4% for botox and 16.4% for HM, p < 0.001). Ultimately, 46.9% of ED and botox patients underwent HM. The overall short-term complication rate was 4.3% and long-term, 1.9%. There was no difference in the short-term and long-term complication rates between intervention groups (p > 0.05). On adjusted analysis, ED and botox were associated with increased risks of re-intervention when compared to HM (HR 5.9, HR 4.8, respectively, p < 0.01). Black patients were found to have a risk of re-intervention twice that of white patients (HR 2.0, p = 0.05).


HM has a similar risk of complications but a significantly lower risk of re-intervention when compared to ED and botox. Based on our findings, we recommend HM as the optimal index procedure for AYAs with achalasia.


Adolescents and young adults Achalasia Long-term re-intervention rates Complication rates 


Author contributor

Dr. Kelleher conceptualized the study, critically reviewed the data and drafted the initial manuscript, and reviewed and revised the final manuscript. Dr. Hung and Dr. Chang conceptualized the study, collected the data and carried out the initial data analysis, critically reviewed the data and drafted the initial manuscript, and reviewed and revised the final manuscript. Dr. Westfal critically reviewed the data, reviewed and revised the initial and final manuscript. All authors approved the final manuscript as submitted and agree to be accountable for all aspects of the work.

Compliance with ethical standards


ML Westfal is financially supported by the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases of the National Institutes of Health (Award Number: T32 DK007754) and by the Massachusetts General Hospital Department of Surgery Marshall K. Bartlett Fellowship. The content is solely the responsibility of the authors and does not necessarily represent the official views of the National Institutes of Health. Y-C Hung, DC Chang, CM Kelleher have no conflicts of interest or financial ties to disclose.

Supplementary material

464_2018_6625_MOESM1_ESM.docx (15 kb)
Supplementary material 1 (DOCX 15 KB)


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC, part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  • Ya-Ching Hung
    • 1
  • Maggie L. Westfal
    • 1
    • 2
  • David C. Chang
    • 1
  • Cassandra M. Kelleher
    • 1
    • 2
    • 3
    Email author
  1. 1.Department of SurgeryMassachusetts General Hospital/Harvard Medical SchoolBostonUSA
  2. 2.Department of Pediatric SurgeryMassGeneral Hospital for ChildrenBostonUSA
  3. 3.Pediatric SurgeryMassachusetts General HospitalBostonUSA

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