Swedish provides Washington's first "POEM" procedure

September 05, 2014

Per oral endoscopic myotomy could help a range of esophageal, stomach disorders

SEATTLE — September 05, 2014— Swedish surgeons became the first in Washington State to perform a per oral endoscopic myotomy (POEM) procedure when they successfully treated a 36-year-old patient diagnosed with a rare esophageal disorder known as achalasia.

POEM involves inserting an endoscope in the patient’s esophagus through the mouth. Once in place, surgeons use several instruments placed though a channel in the endoscope to treat the affected area. In the case of Washington’s first patient to undergo the procedure, a team of Swedish surgeons led by Ralph Aye, M.D. and Brian Louie, M.D. cut though the inner wall of the esophagus to place the endoscope between the inner esophageal layer and the outer muscular wall. By cutting the inner most muscle layer, pressure created by the valve between the esophagus and the stomach was relieved and the patient’s case was treated successfully.

Previously, patients with achalasia were treated using five minimally invasive incisions through the abdominal wall. But because POEM does not require any external incisions, patients can recover quicker with similarly successful outcomes.

“As our physician teams perform more POEM procedures, our surgeons can gradually expand the number of disorders and diseases we can treat with this advanced surgical technique,” said. Dr. Aye. “Eventually we can help a wide variety of patients in Washington who suffer from esophageal and stomach disorders, including some very early cancers”

Dr. Aye and his partner Dr. Louie both underwent intense training over the last year to be certified in performing POEM. Since the first case in late July, Drs. Aye and Louie have performed two more successful cases with several more scheduled for September and October.

Learn more about POEM