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Northwestern Memorial Hospital to Feature Live Webcast of Minimally Invasive Esophageal Surgery to Treat Achalasia

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November 20, 2008

Chicago -

Nathaniel Soper, MD, to Perform Laparoscopic Heller Myotomy

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is a rare esophageal disease that effects thousands of people in the United States, most of whom are in their 20s to 50s, and often presents symptoms that mimic those of acid reflux, such as difficulty swallowing, heart burn and chest pain. Difficult to diagnose and often mismanaged, achalasia is the inability of the muscles in the lower esophageal sphincter to relax during swallowing in order to move food down the esophagus and into the stomach.

Nathaniel Soper, MD, renowned gastrointestinal surgeon and chief of surgery at Northwestern Memorial Hospital, will perform a minimally invasive surgery to treat achalasia, called laparoscopic Heller myotomy, during a live interactive Webcast on Tuesday, December 2, at 3:00 p.m. at www.ihealth.nmh.org.

Dr. Soper and a team of surgeons at Northwestern Memorial perform 50-100 operations per year to treat achalasia, which is more than any other center in Illinois. “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,” said Dr. Soper. “Surgery involves cutting the esophageal sphincter muscle to allow food and liquid to flow into the stomach and provides immediate improvement in most patients.”

The surgery to correct achalasia limits complications and allows most patients to return to work and daily activities within a week following surgery.

Dr. Soper has been at the forefront of less-invasive surgical alternatives and joined the Minimally Invasive Surgery Program at Northwestern Memorial in 2003. As director of the program, he has been instrumental in pioneering minimally invasive procedures in Chicago, including natural orifice transluminal endoscopic surgery, or NOTES, which involves the removal of organs through the mouth or vagina.

“Minimally invasive surgeries are the wave of the future,” adds Dr. Soper. “There has been an upward trend in these types of operations over the last 20 years and I think we will continue to see more traditional surgeries becoming less invasive.”

The December 2 Webcast will be moderated by a colleague of Dr. Soper and is open to patients who are seeking information about minimally invasive surgery to treat achalasia, as well as surgeons and clinicians seeking information or CME credits.

This is the third in a series of four Webcasts on minimally invasive surgical options. Log on to www.ihealth.nmh.org to participate live or view archived Webcasts featuring Northwestern Memorial Hospital.

Media Contact

Kimberly Arndt
Senior Associate

Last UpdateFebruary 8, 2011