Conference Coverage

Report card may foretell achalasia surgery outcomes



– The Eckardt score has been established as a tool to evaluate outcomes of surgery for achalasia, but researchers have developed a report card that uses multiple variables that may provide a more accurate picture of surgical outcomes, according to results of study reported at the annual meeting of the Society of American Gastrointestinal Endoscopic Surgeons.

“The use of an accurate score to assess outcomes after achalasia surgery shows outstanding results,” said Ealaf Shemmeri, MD, of Swedish Medical Center in Seattle. “Using patient-reported symptoms, objective measures, and rates of reinterventions organized into a report card provides a more comprehensive and informative view.”

The Eckardt score evaluates four symptoms to evaluate outcomes of surgery to treat achalasia: weight loss, retrosternal pain, regurgitation, and dysphagia. “However, it does not address the other changes that can occur after myotomy, including the quality of swallowing and the onset of reflux disease,” she said. “Thus, there is a need for a more comprehensive assessment of quality after achalasia treatment.”

So the Swedish investigators set out to devise a report card that provides “a comprehensive and informative assessment” of surgical myotomy outcomes, she said. This involved a retrospective, single-center chart review of 185 patients who had surgical myotomy for primary achalasia from 2005 to 2017.

To determine patient-reported outcomes, the report card defines success as an Eckardt score below 3, Dakkak dysphagia score above 40, and GERD-HRQL (health-related quality of life) score below 10. The objective measures consisted of DeMeester (pH) score below 14.72, no column at 5 minutes on timed barium swallow, normalized integrated relaxation pressure less than 15 on manometry, and absence of esophagitis on endoscopy. For the third pillar of the report card, no reintervention was recorded as a success, Dr. Shemmeri said.

Regarding the etiology of achalasia in the study population, 42 had type 1, 109 had type 2, and 34 had type 3. A total of 71 patients had per oral endoscopic myotomy and 114 had Heller myotomy, 92 with Dor fundoplication and 20 with Toupet. Major perioperative complications included four per oral endoscopic myotomy patients who developed a leak requiring intervention. Six patients required return to the operating room for persistent dysphagia, Dr. Shemmeri said.

After the procedures, 93% of study patients reported an Eckardt score less than 3. However, only 45% have a Dakkak dysphagia score greater than 40 and 71% had a GERD-HRQL score less than 10, Dr. Shemmeri said. The objective measures told a similar story: Integrated relaxation pressure normalized in 80%, barium clearance was achieved in 61%, normal esophageal mucosa was recorded in 71%, “but pH testing was normal only 50% of the time,” Dr. Shemmeri said.

“The final success of not needing intervention is 79%,” she said. At this point in the study, 139 patients were available for follow-up. Among the 29 who needed reintervention, 19 had dilation below 20 mm Hg, 3 underwent pneumatic dilation, and 2 had botulinum toxin. Two patients required a redo myotomy, two had antireflux surgery, and one had an esophagectomy.

“When you only focus on a singular outcome, you can miss the whole story that occurs after myotomy,” Dr. Shemmeri said. “Providing a comprehensive tool gives you the ability to identify areas for improvement in your achalasia practice. Its simplicity allows it to be applied in various settings.” In the academic setting, it can be a tool for evaluating technologies and approaches for postmyotomy management. In hospitals and surgeons’ practices, it can aid in quality improvement, comparative outcomes research, and in evaluating operative approaches to myotomy.

The outcomes highlight the high prevalence of GERD, thus stressing the importance of pH testing after myotomy, Dr. Shemmeri said. Her study team recommends pH testing at 6-month follow-up because patients may not always self-report the extent of esophagitis present. Coauthor Brian Louie, MD, also of Swedish Medical Center, added during the discussion that ongoing follow-up of achalasia patients is necessary to address issues patients encounter with their swallowing over time.

Dr. Shemmeri had no relevant financial relationships to disclose. Dr. Louie reported relationships with Boston Scientific, ERBE, and Olympus.

SOURCE: Shemmeri E et al. SAGES 2019, Presentation S085.

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