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Incisionless surgery now available as an investigational treatment for esophageal disorder
Date:8/22/2011

CHICAGO Jorge Sobenes is a husband and father who loves to cook for his family. In a nine month period however, he went from enjoying his favorite foods to not being able to eat or drink due to a tightening in his throat and difficulty swallowing. He lost 40 pounds and was desperate for answers. Sobenes was diagnosed with achalasia, a condition where the esophagus is unable to move food into the stomach, and was told he would need surgery. Historically, the procedure requires several incisions in the abdomen in order to access the blocked esophageal pathway. Sobenes however was able to undergo surgery without any external incisions thanks to an innovative new research approach called PerOral Endoscopic Myotomy (POEM). The procedure is one of a growing number of surgeries to use the body's natural orifices as an entry point, thus eliminating the need for traditional incisions. Northwestern Memorial Hospital is one of only a few centers in the U.S. with surgeons trained to perform the procedure.

"This surgical approach not only eliminates the need for external incisions, but also offers greater precision and a faster healing time for patients," said Eric Hungness, MD, gastrointestinal surgeon at Northwestern Memorial.

POEM is performed by inserting an endoscope in the mouth and tunneling it down the esophagus so surgeons can access and cut abnormal muscle fibers that prevent the valve at the base of the esophagus from opening to allow food to enter the stomach. It is currently under investigation and is being offered as part of a clinical trial at Northwestern Memorial.

Sobenes, who was one of the first patients in the country to be treated for achalasia using the investigational procedure, said the choice was easy for him. "What I was going through was terrible. I couldn't eat. I couldn't drink. I wanted to get back to normal as fast as possible and was happy to hear of this alternative," said Sobenes.

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Contact: Colleen Sheehan
csheehan@nmh.org
312-926-7769
Northwestern Memorial Hospital
Source:Eurekalert

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