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Treatment of achalasia: the short-term response to botulinum toxin injection seems to be independent of any kind of pretreatment

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Author(s): Storr M | Born P | Frimberger E | Weigert N | Rösch T | Meining A | Classen M | Allescher HD

Journal: BMC Gastroenterology
ISSN 1471-230X

Volume: 2;
Issue: 1;
Start page: 19;
Date: 2002;
Original page

Keywords: botulinum toxin | achalasia | myotomy | balloon dilatation | treatment failure

ABSTRACT
Abstract Background It has been suggested that intrasphincteric injection of botulinum toxin (BTX) may represent an alternative therapy to balloon dilatation in achalasia. The aim of the present study was to test the effectiveness of botulinum toxin injections in achalasia patients, as assessed using lower oesophageal sphincter pressure (LOSP) and symptom scores, and to compare the response in patients with different types of pretreatment (no previous treatment, balloon dilatation, myotomy, BTX injection). Methods Forty patients who presented with symptomatic achalasia were treated with BTX injection (48 injections in 40 patients). Some of the patients had received prior treatment (seven with myotomy, seven with dilatation and eight with BTX). The symptoms were assessed using a global symptom score (0–10), which was evaluated before treatment, 1 week afterwards, and 1 month afterwards. Manometry was also carried out before and after treatment. Three different selections of patients were studied: all patients; untreated patients; and patients with prior BTX, dilatation, or myotomy. Results After BTX injection, there was a significant reduction in LOSP (before, 38.2 ± 11.3 mmHg; 1 week after, 20.5 ± 6.9 mmHg; 1 month after, 17.8 ± 6.8 mmHg; P < 0.001). The global symptom score and symptom subscores (dysphagia, regurgitation, chest pain) were significantly decreased after 1 week and 1 month. When the beneficial effects following BTX injection were compared (untreated vs. pretreated), neither changes in LOSP nor beneficial effects on the symptom scores significantly differed. After 6 months, 67.7% of all treated patients were still in symptomatic remission (subgroups: previously untreated patients, 61.5%, n = 26; prior dilatation, 71.4%, n = 7; prior myotomy, 71.4%, n = 7; prior BTX, 73.9%, n = 8). Conclusions BTX injection offers an alternative treatment for achalasia which is safe and can be performed in an outpatient setting. The initial response to BTX, in terms of symptom scores and LOSP, appears to be independent of any prior treatment. A number of patients do not adequately respond to balloon dilatation or myotomy, which are the first-line treatment modalities in achalasia patients. BTX injection can be performed in these patients, and symptomatic benefit can be expected in the same percentages as with BTX injection in untreated patients.

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