Surgical approaches for achalasia and obesity: a systematic review and patient-level meta-analysis

Stephen Kunz, Hamza Ashraf, Christopher Klonis, Sarah K. Thompson, Ahmad Aly, David S. Liu

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Purpose: Synchronous and metachronous presentations of achalasia and obesity are increasingly common. There is limited data to guide the combined or staged surgical approaches to these conditions. 

Methods: A systematic review (MEDLINE, Embase, and Web of Science) and patient-level meta-analysis of published cases were performed to examine the most effective surgical approach for patients with synchronous or metachronous presentations of achalasia and obesity. 

Results: Thirty-three studies with 93 patients were reviewed. Eighteen patients underwent concurrent achalasia and bariatric surgery, with the most common (n = 12, 72.2%) being laparoscopic Heller’s myotomy (LHM) and Roux-en-Y gastric bypass (RYGB). This combination achieved 68.9% excess weight loss and 100% remission of achalasia (mean follow-up: 3 years). Seven (6 RYGB, 1 biliopancreatic diversion) patients had bariatric surgery following achalasia surgery. Of these, all 6 RYGBs had satisfactory bariatric outcomes, with complete remission of their achalasia (mean follow-up: 1.8 years). Sixty-eight patients underwent myotomy following bariatric surgery; the majority (n = 55, 80.9%) were following RYGB. In this scenario, per-oral endoscopic myotomy (POEM) achieved higher treatment success than LHM (n = 33 of 35, 94.3% vs. n = 14 of 20, 70.0%, p = 0.021). Moreover, conversion to RYGB following a restrictive bariatric procedure during achalasia surgery was also associated with higher achalasia treatment success.

Conclusion: In patients with concurrent achalasia and obesity, LHM and RYGB achieved good outcomes for both pathologies. For those with weight gain post-achalasia surgery, RYGB provided satisfactory weight loss, without adversely affecting achalasia symptoms. For those with achalasia after bariatric surgery, POEM and conversion to RYGB produced greater treatment success.

Original languageEnglish
Article number403
Number of pages10
JournalLangenbeck's Archives of Surgery
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2023


  • Achalasia
  • Bariatric surgery
  • Eckardt score
  • Obesity


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