GUH performs first ‘incisionless’ surgery for oesophagus blockages

galway daily news first surgery for blocked oesophagus at galway university hospitals
From Left, Máire Cooper, Theatre Staff Nurse; Noreen Keelan, Senior Anaesthetic Staff Nurse; Paul Carroll, Consultant Oesophagogastric and General Surgeon; Ashitosh Waidande, CNM 2, GI Theatre; and Deirdre Hoade, Senior Staff Nurse, Theatre.

Galway University Hospitals (GUH) has become the first hospital in Ireland to introduce an ‘incisionless’ minimally invasive surgery to help correct blockages of the oesophagus.

Achalasia is a rare condition which causes a blockage in the muscles of the lower oesophagus which causes difficulty in swallowing.

The procedure was carried out by Mr Paul Carroll who specialises in minimally invasive surgery and endoscopic surgery for oesophago-gastric cancer and benign disease.

Traditionally, treatment of achalasia divides the muscles of the lower oesophagus through several small incisions in the abdomen.

However, surgeons in GUH have now undertaken an incisionless procedure using Peroral Endoscopic Myotomy (POEM).

POEM uses a narrow flexible tube with a camera, to breach the lining of the oesophagus.

This tube is inserted through the mouth and can be positioned into the space between the oesophageal lining and the muscles. The breach is then closed with special clips.

One of the significant benefits of this procedure is the ability to treat a subtype of achalasia with chest pain.

Patients are discharged the following morning without pain and with resolution of symptoms.

Mr Paul Carroll, Consultant Oesophagogastric and General Surgeon at Galway University Hospitals, thanked his team for their support in bringing the procedure to Irish patients.

“I am personally delighted that I have been able to introduce this procedure into Ireland for treatment of this disease process,” said Mr Carroll.

“It would not have been possible without the support and training I received whilst on fellowship in the University of Toronto and finally without the unwavering support of the late Marie Farragher, Clinical Nurse Manager in theatre and her team of nurses for pushing boundaries with me.”

Chris Kane, General Manager of Galway University Hospitals also praised the innovation.

“These innovations focus on and enhance the patient experience. They improve care and treatment options for all our communities and we are delighted to add this innovative surgery at GUH.”