Objective Achalasia is a chronic motility disorder of the oesophagus for which laparoscopic Heller myotomy (LHM) and endoscopic pneumodilation (PD) are the most commonly used treatments. However, prospective data comparing their long-term efficacy is lacking.
Design 201 newly diagnosed patients with achalasia were randomly assigned to PD (n=96) or LHM (n=105). Before randomisation, symptoms were assessed using the Eckardt score, functional test were performed and quality of life was assessed. The primary outcome was therapeutic success (presence of Eckardt score ≤3) at the yearly follow-up assessment. The secondary outcomes included the need for re-treatment, lower oesophageal sphincter pressure, oesophageal emptying and the rate of complications.
Results In the full analysis set, there was no significant difference in success rate between the two treatments with 84% and 82% success after 5 years for LHM and PD, respectively (p=0.92, log-rank test). Similar results were obtained in the per-protocol analysis (5-year success rates: 82% for LHM vs 91% for PD, p=0.08, log-rank test). After 5 years, no differences in secondary outcome parameter were observed. Redilation was performed in 24 (25%) of PD patients. Five oesophageal perforations occurred during PD (5%) while 12 mucosal tears (11%) occurred during LHM.
Conclusions After at least 5 years of follow-up, PD and LHM have a comparable success rate with no differences in oesophageal function and emptying. However, 25% of PD patients require redilation during follow-up. Based on these data, we conclude that either treatment can be proposed as initial treatment for achalasia.
Trial registration numbers Netherlands trial register (NTR37) and Current Controlled Trials registry (ISRCTN56304564).