POEM will provide relief from the problem of swallowing food

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Difficulty swallowing food is a common problem, but sometimes it can be a sign of a serious illness. If you have this problem persistently, it can be a symptom of a disease called Achalasia. In Achalasia, a muscle called the lower esophageal sphincter (LES) does not work properly, causing difficulty in passing food to the stomach.

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Dr Kapil Sharma, Director, Gastrocure, Liver, GI and Endoscopy Clinic, Delhi, said that if you are suffering from achalasia and other treatments like pneumatic dilation, botulinum toxin injections or medicines are not proving effective for you, then Per-Oral Endoscopic Myotomy (POEM) can be a hope for you.

What is POEM?

POEM is a new and low-risk endoscopic procedure used primarily to treat achalasia. In this procedure, a flexible tube (endoscope) is inserted into the esophagus through the mouth and then the lower esophageal sphincter muscle is cut and weakened. This helps the food to reach the stomach easily.

For which patients is POEM beneficial?

* Patients who have achalasia and other treatments have not worked.

* POEM is effective for all types of achalasia, but it is particularly beneficial in type III achalasia where surgery has not worked.

* Patients with other esophageal motility disorders may also be suitable for POEM.

* Patients who are experiencing problems such as severe difficulty swallowing (dysphagia), regurgitation, and chest pain may be suitable candidates for POEM.

* Patients with achalasia cardia with esophageal diverticula or prior esophageal surgery may also be considered for POEM.

What to do before treatment?

It is important that patients understand the POEM procedure, its risks, benefits, and options, and give informed consent. This includes understanding potential complications such as perforation, infection, and gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD).

If you or someone you know is having trouble swallowing food and has been diagnosed with esophageal motility disorder, it is advisable to consult a senior gastroenterologist who specializes in third-space endoscopy. They will advise you if POEM is a suitable treatment option for you.