Myotomy is any surgical procedure in which muscle is cut. A common example is a procedure known as Heller myotomy. This operation is used to treat achalasia, a condition in which the cardia is unable to relax properly and the sufferer is unable to swallow liquids or food.
First suggested in 1913, Heller myotomy was performed using an open procedure called thoracotomy. This procedure was risky and had a very long recuperation time. The more modern form is performed using minimal laparoscopic techniques, otherwise known as keyhole surgery. These speed recovery and greatly reduce risks.
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Heller myotomy is performed by cutting the muscles of the cardia, the lower esophageal sphincter. This allows food and liquids to pass through to the stomach. Before the procedure, the patient is given a general anesthesia to make sure they are not awake during the surgery.
Five or six small incisions are made to the abdominal wall. A laparoscope is then inserted into the stomach area. If there are no complications during the surgery, patients will be able to start taking liquid the same day. They will be able to start eating solid food within two to three days.
A patient undergoing this surgery may be in the hospital for two to three days. Within a week, they should be able to return to work. If their work involves heavy lifting or strenuous exercise, then the patient may be advised to refrain from such activity for around eight weeks.
Heller myotomy is considered to be a long-term option. Most patients who undergo it do not require any further treatment. The operation does not permanently correct the underlying cause of achalasia, and the condition will not disappear altogether. It does, however, give patients a greatly improved ability to eat food and drink liquids.