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West Penn Allegheny Health System is First in Pennsylvania to Perform Groundbreaking Minimally-Invasive Procedure for Swallowing Disorder
Date:5/9/2013

eat achalasia in the same way but without making any incisions in the patient’s skin. Employing the NOTES philosophy (natural orifice translumenal endoscopic surgery), physicians use an endoscope to access the esophagus via the patient’s mouth.

Surgical instruments are passed through the endoscope and the myotomy is performed internally, without disruption to the skin.

“It’s a novel approach,” said Blair Jobe, MD, Director of the WPAHS Institute for the Treatment of Esophageal and Thoracic Disease. “By eliminating the need for external incisions, we are able to speed the healing process, limit or eliminate pain, and achieve a cosmetically flawless result. Our first patient went home within 24 hours of surgery, used no pain medication and noticed a dramatic improvement in his symptoms.”

Drs. Jobe and Kulkarni joined thoracic surgeon and Co-Director of the Institute, Lana Schumacher, MD, gastroenterologist Shyam Thakkar, MD, and Toshitaka Hoppo, MD, a general surgeon specializing in esophageal surgery, on the multidisciplinary team that performed the first POEM procedure at Canonsburg General Hospital. The procedure is currently being performed as part of a clinical trial to help doctors determine if it can be an effective treatment option for achalasia in the future. Physicians expect to enroll 15 patients in the study.

According to Dr. Schumacher, the likelihood of patients developing gastroesophageal reflux may be higher after the POEM procedure compared to
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