Peroral endoscopic myotomy (POEM) is a minimally invasive procedure that uses endoscopic technology to treat digestive and swallowing disorders. For many people, POEM can offer long-term relief from achalasia — a disorder which makes it difficult to swallow and consume food. Unlike traditional surgery, peroral endoscopic myotomy does not require incisions outside the body and offers patients a quick recovery.

The University of Chicago Medicine is one of only a few centers in Illinois offering this advanced technique to patients so they can avoid more invasive surgery. Our interventional gastroenterologists at the University of Chicago Medicine Center for Endoscopic Research and Therapeutics (CERT) are highly skilled at using the latest endoscopy technology to improve the lives of patients suffering from difficult-to-treat digestive disorders.

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What is peroral endoscopic myotomy (POEM)?

Peroral endoscopic myotomy is a minimally invasive procedure for achalasia, a rare disorder in which tight muscles in the esophagus prevent food from reaching the stomach and being digested properly.

Our interventional gastroenterologists are experts in performing POEM and other advanced procedures to help ease your symptoms and improve your quality of life.

Who is a good candidate for peroral endoscopic myotomy?

Candidates for POEM include patients with achalasia who may have symptoms such as chest pain, trouble swallowing, coughing, vomiting and weight loss.

At UChicago Medicine, our experts are skilled at handling complex cases of achalasia and helping patients find relief from their symptoms.

How is peroral endoscopic myotomy different from Heller myotomy?

Both the POEM procedure and a Heller myotomy aim to relax muscles in the lower esophageal sphincter that prevent food from moving through your esophagus to your stomach. Research has shown they are both safe and effective for treating achalasia.

However, the treatments use two different approaches. During POEM, an interventional gastroenterologist uses a thin, flexible tube called an endoscope inserted in the mouth, so there are no incisions on the outside of your body. During a Heller myotomy, the surgeon will typically use a laparoscope, which involves making a few small incisions in the chest or abdomen.

Typically, patients who have a Heller myotomy have a longer recovery than those who have had POEM.

Frequently Asked Questions about the Peroral Endoscopic Myotomy (POEM) Procedure

Meet Our Peroral Endoscopic Myotomy Specialist

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Eating Again After Achalasia

Eating and drinking became increasingly difficult for Dorian Brantley. Gastroenterologists diagnosed achalasia — a rare digestive disorder that affects the muscles between the esophagus and the stomach. Brantley had a peroral endoscopic myotomy to correct the problem. Now, she is back to enjoying all her favorite foods again.
Dorian Brantley, University of Chicago patient and UChicago Medicine nurse, eating pizza again after her achalasia surgery

Chicago Location for Peroral Endoscopic Myotomy