Sentara Martha Jefferson Monday: Treating Achalasia with the POEM Procedure

Our focus this week is on a treatment for people who are suffering from swallowing issues.  We spoke with Dr. Alan Brijbassie, a physician with Sentara Martha Jefferson Medical and Surgical Associates who is specialty trained in interventional gastroenterology, to learn more.

For people suffering from achalasia, a rare disorder that causes difficulty swallowing, a treatment option is now available at Sentara Martha Jefferson Hospital.

“This is a relatively new technique that is done and that has been pioneered where it’s an endoscopic way of treating achalasia,” noted Dr. Brijbassie.

Dr. Brijbassie is trained to perform the Peroral Endoscopic Myotomy (POEM) procedure. It’s an endoscopic, outpatient way of treating the issue. 

“What this entails is tunneling a channel through the wall of the esophagus and incising the muscle fibers to treat the condition,” noted Dr. Brijbassie. 

Once the muscle can relax, it makes it much easier for patients to swallow properly again. 

The exact cause of achalasia is unknown. However, people who suffer from the disorder will likely have similar symptoms. “It’s pretty much just difficulty swallowing, regurgitation - where you sleep at night and some of the contents from the esophagus come up,” noted Dr. Brijbassie.

Thanks to the POEM procedure however, patient can get back to feeling better quickly. “Patients have a remarkable benefit from it,” noted Dr. Brijbassie. 

For more information on this topic, please call 1-800-SENTARA. If you have a question about your health you’d like us to answer, please email healthquestions@nbc29.com

Sentara Martha Jefferson Monday

Do you have health questions? Get the answers every Monday morning from the experts in our feature: Sentara Martha Jefferson Monday.

Jenn Downs will meet with the experts of Sentara Martha Jefferson Hospital and ask them your questions. You’ll see and hear the answers during NBC29 News at Sunrise every Monday morning.

To submit your questions, email them to healthquestions@nbc29.com. Then, tune in every Monday morning during NBC29 News at Sunrise for Sentara Martha Jefferson Monday.

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