Berlin, Md. –In a ground-breaking procedure for Atlantic General Hospital, local gastroenterologist Jerrold Canakis, MD, used Botox injection – typically thought of as a cosmetic application -- to treat a patient’s achalasia, a disorder of the esophagus that can make swallowing foods and liquids difficult or nearly impossible.
Achalasia is a relatively uncommon disorder, which can cause difficulty swallowing, regurgitation after meals, weight loss, and chest pain. It is characterized by a loss of the esophagus’s normal smooth muscle tissue movements that push food from the throat to the stomach and failure of the lower esophageal sphincter to relax. Therefore, food cannot pass properly into the stomach.
The procedure, which was performed recently on 90-year-old Eastern Shore resident Elsie Walsh, can be done on an outpatient basis and is relatively safe. Botox has been used in thousands of patients with ocular and spastic muscle disorders without serious reactions. Walsh, who has had the procedure in the past before moving to the area, was happy with the outcome and felt the effects immediately.
When asked if she was at all apprehensive about the having the procedure, Walsh said, “There’s a little tension whenever you go to the hospital, but no. It was good. Dr. Canakis is a very good doctor.”
“There’s a lot of people that could make use of this,” said Patricia Addy, Walsh’s daughter. “This is such an easy procedure to have done for people who suffer from [achalasia]. It’s a lifesaver for our family.”
“Botox injection for the treatment of achalasia is a promising technique due to its minimally invasive nature, ease of use and lack of morbidity,” said Canakis. “This technique is probably best used as a temporary bridge to other therapies or as a primary therapy in patients who cannot tolerate the potential morbidity of other treatments. I have performed Botox injections in my career and look forward to providing care for patients in the community with achalasia who are appropriate candidates.”
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