Botulinum Toxin Injection (for Achalasia)
What is a BOTOX® injection for achalasia?
Why would a doctor recommend a BOTOX® injection for achalasia?
What does a BOTOX® injection for achalasia involve?
How long is the recovery after a BOTOX® injection for achalasia?
At the bottom of your esophagus—the tube that carries food from the mouth to the stomach—is a band of muscles that opens and shuts when you swallow. This allows food into the stomach, and then keeps the stomach's contents from rising into the esophagus during digestion. In achalasia, these muscles grow weak and do not open the right way when you swallow.
Botulinum toxin—also known as BOTOX®—paralyzes muscles and prevents spasms. By injecting BOTOX® into the band of muscles at the bottom of the esophagus, a doctor can temporarily relax those muscles, and allow you to swallow.
BOTOX®injection is one of three ways of treating achalasia. The procedure is fast and requires no hospitalization. It does not cause pain, as can a balloon dilation for achalasia. A BOTOX® injection is a good option for patients who would be at risk during surgery, such as elderly patients, or those with heart or lung disease.
You will be given medicine to numb your throat, and maybe a mild sedative to relax you. A small device will help keep your mouth open during the procedure. You should feel no pain, and have no trouble breathing, as the doctor gently inserts the endoscope - a thin, flexible tube with a light and a tiny video camera at its tip - through your mouth and into your throat.
Your doctor will view the images from inside your body on a television monitor, and find the band of muscles at the bottom of your esophagus. He or she will then inject the BOTOX® into the muscles, which will allow you to swallow normally.
The treatment can last for at least several months, and possibly a year.
You will need to rest in a recovery area until the effects of your medication have worn off, about an hour. Someone will need to drive you home, and you should take it easy for the rest of the day.
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