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 - Northwestern Memorial Hospital - Chicago


The goal of treatment is to reduce the pressure of food at the valve that allows food into the stomach (lower esophageal sphincter). Evidence shows that the most effective, long-term treatment is a Heller Myotomy, which is a minimally invasive surgery to correct the weakness and malfunctioning of the esophagus. The surgery provides immediate improvement in most patients.

According to Nathaniel Soper, MD, renowned gastrointestinal surgeon and chief of surgery at Northwestern Memorial Hospital, “this minimally invasive procedure is the best option for patients with achalasia, as medication typically has no effect, and endoscopic treatments often must be frequently repeated.”

Dr. Soper and a team of surgeons at Northwestern Memorial perform 50 to 100 surgeries each year to treat achalasia, which is more than any other hospital in Illinois. And a Heller Myotomy to correct achalasia offers benefits over traditional surgery, including:

  • Fewer complications
  • Less pain
  • Shorter hospital stay
  • Shorter recovery time (most patients return to work and daily activities within a week of surgery)

Other Therapy Options

Botox Injection

  • This may help relax the valve so food can pass more easily into the stomach; however, the effects of treatment wear off within weeks or months


  • Long acting nitrates or calcium channel blockers can be used to lower pressure at the valve that allows food into the stomach

Open or Traditional Surgery (Esophagomyotomy)

  • This may be necessary to reduce pressure in against the valve that allows food into the stomach


Last UpdateFebruary 8, 2011


To make an appointment with a physician, please call 1-877-926-4664.

New patients can request an appointment online.