Per-oral oesophageal myotomy (POEM)

Per-oral oesophageal myotomy (POEM) is a natural orifice endoscopic surgery that has been gaining increasing use as an alternative to traditional oesophageal myotomies (e.g. Heller myotomy and Nissen fundoplication).

With this technique, the endoscopist insufflates the oesophagus with CO2 then creates a 2 cm opening approximately 12 cm above the squamocolumnar junction and then creates a submucosal path to the lower oesophageal sphincter and usually into the cardia of the stomach. He or she then incises the sphincter/ circular muscle (myotomy), and at the end of the procedure withdraws the scope, closing the mucosal opening with staples. The whole procedure is performed beneath the mucosa under general anesthesia.

Radiographic features

Most patients receive a fluoroscopic oesophageal swallow study either immediately after the procedure or soon after the procedure.

The most common scope approach is anteriorly in the oesophagus, so the RPO position is often best to profile the clips 2

Water-soluble contrast (e.g. Gastrografin) is usually used first in case there is an occult perforation.

Normal findings
  • clips at the surface of the oesophagus, indicating the entrance to the submucosal tunnel (clips usually fall off with time)
  • small amount of pneumoperitoneum,  pneumomediastinum, intramural gastric pneumatosis, retroperitoneal gas, as well as intramural dissection and contrast leak are common findings post procedure mostly leakage from CO2 instillation through the scope during the procedure; these usually resolve spontaneously and no further intervention is required

Treatment and prognosis

  • contrast leak outside the oesophagus (perforation)
  • a large amount of pneumoperitoneum (concerning for perforation)
  • distal sphincter dilatation less than 5 mm post POEM is considered poor response
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Article information

rID: 46073
Synonyms or Alternate Spellings:
  • Per-oral oesophageal myotomies (POEM)
  • Per-oral esophageal myotomy (POEM)
  • Per-oral esophageal myotomies (POEM)
  • Per-oral oesophageal myotomy
  • Per-oral esophageal myotomy
  • Per oral oesophageal myotomy
  • Per oral esophageal myotomy

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Cases and figures

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    Clips overlying t...
    Case 1: scout
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    A small amount of...
    Case 1: barium - LPO
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