Achalasia is a relatively rare disorder affecting the esophagus. It is characterized by difficulty in swallowing due to enlargement of the esophagus, difficulty in pushing food down toward the stomach (peristalsis), and failure of the ring-shaped muscle at the bottom of the esophagus, the lower esophageal sphincter (LES), to relax. It is the contraction and relaxation of the sphincter that moves food through the tube.
Diagnosis is reached with esophageal manometry and barium swallow radiographic studies. Various treatments are available, however none cures the condition at this time. Certain medications or Botox may be used in some cases, but more permanent relief is brought by esophageal dilatation and surgical cleaving of the muscle (Heller myotomy).
The most common form is primary achalasia, which has no known underlying cause. It is due to the failure of distal esophageal inhibitory neurons.
Achalasia News and Information
See below for updated news and information regarding Achalasia including new research, treatments and advancements.