Late results in 81 patients with achalasia treated in a prospective randomised study comparing forceful pneumatic dilatation with the Mosher bag and surgical anterior oesophagomyotomy by abdominal route, are reported. There were no deaths from either of the treatments. Two patients (5.6%) had a perforation of the abdominal oesophagus after pneumatic dilatation and were excluded from late follow up. In patients having surgery at radiological evaluation there was gullet diameter significantly increased at the oesophagogastric junction and decreased at the middle third of the oesophagus. One patient was lost from follow up and one died of an oesophageal carcinoma, leaving 95% of excellent results at the late follow up (median 62 months). Resting gastro-oesophageal sphincter pressure decreased significantly to approximately 10 mmHg; this was maintained five years after surgery. By contrast, in patients having pneumatic dilatation, there were good results in only 65% (follow up median 58 months), with 30% failures. One patient was lost from follow up and one developed oesophageal carcinoma. Measurement of resting gastro-oesophageal sphincter pressure after dilatation was highly predictive of the outcome. The study shows that surgical treatment offers a better final clinical result than pneumatic dilatation with the Mosher bag.
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