Achalasia is a neurodegenerative motility esophageal disorder characterized by failure of lower esophageal sphincter relaxation. The conventional treatment option for achalasia has been laparoscopic Heller myotomy (LHM). However, in 2010, Inoue et al. described peroral endoscopic myotomy (POEM), a minimally invasive procedure, as an alternative therapy. To date, some studies with small sample sizes have aimed to compare outcomes of LHM vs POEM.
Thus, the aim of this study is to perform a systematic review and meta-analysis to better evaluate the efficacy and safety of these two techniques.
Individualized search strategies were developed from inception through April 2019 in accordance with PRISMA guidelines. Variables analyzed included operative time, overall adverse events rate, post-procedure gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD), hospitalization length, post-procedure pain score, and Eckardt Score reduction.
Twelve cohort trials were selected, consisting of 893 patients (359 in POEM group and 534 in LHM.) No randomized clinical trials were available. There was no difference in operative time (MD= -10,26, 95% CI (-5,6 to 8,2), P<0.001) or Post-Operative Gastroesophageal Reflux (RD: -0.00, 95%CI: (-0.09, 0.09), I2: 0%). There was decreased length of hospital stay for POEM (MD: -0.6, 95% CI (-1.11, -0.09), P=0.02), and an increased mean reduction in Eckardt score in POEM patients (MD = -0.257, 95% CI: (-0.512 to -0.002), P=0.048), with similar rates of adverse events.
POEM demonstrated similar results compared to laparoscopic Heller myotomy with regards to improvement of dysphagia, post-procedure reflux, and surgical time, with the benefit of shorter length of hospital stay. Therefore, POEM can be considered an option for patients with achalasia.