Laparoscopic esophageal myotomy is the standard surgical intervention for achalasia. Compared to standard laparoscopic techniques, use of the robot has theoretical advantages of improved visualization and dexterity. We evaluated the University of Arizona’s experience with the two alternatives to compare outcomes. Patients who underwent either laparoscopic or robot-assisted myotomy were identified from a retrospective database from 1/1/2006 to 12/31/2015. Patient demographics, prior treatment, intra-operative complications, operative time, post-operative length of stay and complications, and long-term results were compared between the two groups. We identified 35 laparoscopic and 37 robot-assisted Heller myotomies performed by multiple surgeons. Patient demographics were similar between the two groups with no statistical difference in age, gender, previous operations, pre-operative Botox or dilation treatment, or pre-op Eckardt score. In univariate analysis, the patients with the robotic procedure received a longer myotomy (5.85 cm vs. 5.56 cm for esophageal and 2.92 cm vs. 2.68 cm for gastric) and had a lower post-operative Eckardt score (0.51 vs. 1.09). A trend toward lower incidence of recurrent achalasia symptoms was found in the robotic group (0 patient vs. 4 patients) compared with those who had laparoscopic surgery (p < 0.05). Multivariate analysis showed that a longer gastric myotomy was associated with a lower recurrence rate (p = 0.0002). Both laparoscopic and robot-assisted Heller myotomy can provide definitive treatment of achalasia with good results and few complications. The mechanical advantage provided by the robotic approach may improve outcomes by providing a more complete myotomy and durable long-term result.
Heller myotomy Achalasia, robotic Best surgical approach
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Conflict of interest
Authors Samuel Kim, Jose Guillen-Rodriquez and Alex Little declare that they have no conflict of interest.
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