POEM is a minimally invasive endoscopic therapy for achalasia. Achalasia is a motility disorder of the esophagus.
POEM is used to release pressure in the distal esophagus. This can be achieved with an endoscopy, and by carefully cutting the esophageal muscle fibers with special electrocautery knives. POEM effectively replaces the need for a surgical procedure called, Heller Myotomy, which has been conventionally used to treat achalasia. It has the benefit of being less invasive than surgery and having a quicker recovery time.
Patients will need to be on a liquid diet for 48 hours prior to the procedure to help keep the esophagus free of solid food contents. There is no preparation the patients must drink for the POEM procedure. Patients only need to be NPO (not eating/drinking) after midnight prior to the procedure. During the procedure, patients will be sedated with general anesthesia and then admitted to the hospital for an overnight observation. The procedure usually takes about 2 hours and patients are routinely discharged the following day.