Achalasia historical perspective

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Editor-In-Chief: C. Michael Gibson, M.S., M.D. [1] Associate Editor(s)-in-Chief: Twinkle Singh, M.B.B.S. [2], Ahmed Younes M.B.B.CH [3]


Achalasia is Greek for failure to relax and has been known for more than 300 years BC. The first successful esophagomyotomy was done in 1913 while laparoscopic esophagomyotomy was described in 1991.

Historical Perspective

  • Achalasia is Greek for failure to relax and has been known for more than 300 years BC.
  • In 1674, Sir Thomas Willis described achalasia for the first time as functional obstruction of the esophagus at the cardiac sphincter and therefore, named it as cardiospasm.
  • The first recorded successful treatment of achalasia was a sponge attached to a carved whalebone which was passed through esophagus, resulting in its dilation.
  • In 1913, Ernest Heller performed the first successful esophagomyotomy to treat this disorder.
  • In 1927, Sir Arthur Hurst coined the term achalasia for the first time.[1][2]
  • In 1991, Shimi et al described laproscopic approach for esophagomyotomy for the first time.[3]


  1. Palanivelu C, Maheshkumar GS, Jani K, Parthasarthi R, Sendhilkumar K, Rangarajan M (2007). "Minimally invasive management of achalasia cardia: results from a single center study". JSLS. 11 (3): 350–7. PMC 3015830. PMID 17931518.
  2. Spiess AE, Kahrilas PJ (1998). "Treating achalasia: from whalebone to laparoscope". JAMA. 280 (7): 638–42. PMID 9718057.
  3. Shimi, S.; Nathanson, LK.; Cuschieri, A. (1991). "Laparoscopic cardiomyotomy for achalasia". J R Coll Surg Edinb. 36 (3): 152–4. PMID 1833541. Unknown parameter |month= ignored (help)

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