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Successful Design and Implementation of a POEM Program for Achalasia in an Integrated Healthcare System

Per Oral Endoscopic Myotomy (POEM) is a minimally invasive treatment for achalasia with results comparable to laparoscopic Heller myotomy (LHM). Studies have described the development of proficiency for endoscopists learning to perform POEM, and societies have defined educational and technical objectives for advanced endoscopy fellows in training. However, there is limited guidance on the organizational strategy and educational plan necessary to develop an achalasia service with POEM expertise. We aim to outline the steps for design and implementation of a successful POEM program. We reported our experience developing a multi-disciplinary clinical program for POEM and the steps taken to achieve procedural proficiency. We also reported our technical success (successful tunneling into the gastric cardia and myotomy of LES muscle fibers) and clinical success (post-procedure Eckardt score ≤ 3) at 3-6 months and 12 months post-procedure. Adverse events were classified per the ASGE lexicon for endoscopic adverse events. After creating a multi-disciplinary clinical program for achalasia and completing procedural proficiency for POEM, our technical success rate was 100% and clinical success rate 90% for the first 41 patients. One adverse event (2.4%) occurred, moderate in severity per the American Society of Gastrointestinal Endoscopy (ASGE) lexicon for adverse endoscopic events. In this study, we outlined the steps involved to establish a POEM service in a large integrated healthcare system. Prior competency in interventional endoscopy, procedural training models, POEM observation and education, proctorship, and interdisciplinary patient care are recommended.

Authors: Leung, Lawrence Jun; Ma, Gene K; Lee, Jeffrey K; Fukami, Norio; Chang, Howard; Svahn, Jonathan; Xu, Ming-Ming; Lam, Steven; Risbud, Amita; Jue, Terry L

Dig Dis Sci. 2023 Feb 01:1-9.

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