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Lessons learned from early experience of per oral endoscopic myotomy in children

      Highlights

      • Per oral endoscopic myotomy (POEM) is a new natural orifice trans luminal endoscopic surgery (NOTES) procedure successfully accomplished in children.
      • This short-term follow-up study with no major complications shows POEM as a safe treatment in experienced hands.
      • Using the adult interventional endoscopy experience in the paediatric cohort with Achalasia contributed to an excellent outcome for affected children.

      Abstract

      Background/Aims

      Achalasia cardia (AC) is rare in children, and the standard treatment is open or Laparoscopic Heller's myotomy with or without fundoplication if pneumatic dilatation has failed. Per oral endoscopic myotomy (POEM) is a novel technique for management of achalasia with good results in adults. We report POEM in four children and the outcome with special emphasis on the technique and management of intra-operative complications.

      Method

      Four children aged 7–15 years presenting with progressive dysphagia, cough, night-time aspirations, and weight loss of six months to one year were investigated with upper GI contrast study, flexible endoscopy and biopsy, oesophageal manometry, and a diagnosis of Type 1 & 2 AC was made. An experienced adult endoscopist in collaboration with the paediatric surgical team performed POEM.

      Results

      POEM was performed successfully using ERBE HYBRID knife setup and waterjet injection for the submucosal tunnelling. Operative time was 25–40 min (mean 31 min). The hospital stay was 3–8 days with last 3 patients discharged on day three. No major intraoperative or post-operative complications were seen. The Eckardt score changed from above 4 to 0 at one-month follow-up. All four are well at one year post-operatively and beyond. Two patients had subcutaneous emphysema post-operatively. One developed pneumoperitoneum intra-operatively.

      Conclusion

      POEM was successfully performed with only minor adverse events in experienced hands. Anticipation and preparation for potential intraoperative complications and assigned responsibilities to each team helped the safe completion in the shortest time. Rectifying pneumoperitoneum concurrently without interruption of the operation exemplified teamwork.

      Level of Evidence

      III

      Keywords

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