Per-oral endoscopic myotomy (POEM) after the learning curve: Durable long-term results with a low complication rate

Eric S. Hungness, Joel M. Sternbach, Ezra N. Teitelbaum, Peter J. Kahrilas, John E. Pandolfino, Nathaniel J. Soper

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

113 Scopus citations


Objective: We aimed to report long-term outcomes for patients undergoing per-oral endoscopic myotomy (POEM) after our initial 15-case learning curve. Background: POEM has become an established, natural-orifice surgical approach for treating esophageal motility disorders. To date, published outcomes and comparative-effectiveness studies have included patients from the early POEM experience. Methods: Consecutive patients undergoing POEM after our initial 15 cases, with a minimum of 1-year postoperative follow-up, were included. Treatment success was defined as an Eckardt score ≤3 without reintervention. Gastroesophageal reflux was defined by abnormal pH-testing or reflux esophagitis >Los Angeles grade A. Results: Between January 2012 and March 2015, 115 patients underwent POEM at a single, high-volume center. Operative time was 101 ± 29 minutes, with 95% (109/115) of patients discharged on postoperative day 1. Clavien-Dindo grade III complications occurred in 2.7%, one of which required diagnostic laparoscopy to rule out Veress needle injury to the gall bladder. The rate of grade I complications was 15.2%. At an average of 2.4 years post-POEM (range 12-52 months), the overall success rate was 92%. Objective evidence of reflux was present in 40% for all patients and 33% for patients with a body mass index <35 kg/m2 and no hiatal hernia. Conclusions: POEM performed by experienced surgeons provided durable symptomatic relief in 94% of patients with nonspastic Achalasia and 90% of patients with type 3 Achalasia/spastic esophageal motility disorders, with a low rate of complications. The rate of gastroesophageal reflux was comparable with prior studies of both POEM and laparoscopic Heller myotomy.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)508-515
Number of pages8
JournalAnnals of surgery
Issue number3
StatePublished - Sep 1 2016
Externally publishedYes


  • Achalasia
  • Esophageal motility disorders
  • Per-oral endoscopic myotomy
  • POEM

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Surgery


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