The Medical Team attending to President Lungu,has explored options of correcting the narrowing of the oesophagus (food pipe)that led to the illness of the President on Sunday March, 8 2015.
Doctors have recommended that President Lungu undergoes a high-tech medical procedure which is currently unavailable in Zambia and therefore he has been referred for specialised treatment abroad.This is according to the second medical bulletin released by Special Assistant to the President Amos Chanda
President Lungu has a history Achalasia (the condition of the narrowing of the food pipe.) This condition was corrected 30 years ago at the University Teaching Hospital and appears to have recurred.A team of senior doctors comprising physicians, surgeons, pathologists, and radiologists, reviewed these findings and recommended immediate correction of this condition.This statement has been authorized by Dr. Dorothy Kasonde and Dr. Dave Kishore on behalf the doctors attending to President Lungu.
What is Achalasia
Achalasia is a condition that affects the esophagus, the tube that carries food from the throat to the stomach. In individuals with achalasia, the esophagus does not work properly. Food may become trapped in it. This condition can be related to damage to nerves in the esophagus. It can also be caused by damage to the lower esophageal sphincter. The lower esophageal sphincter is a valve that closes off the esophagus from the stomach.
How Is Achalasia Treated?
Several types of treatment can be used to either temporarily reduce symptoms or permanently alter the function of the lower esophageal sphincter.
- The first line of treatment is often oral medications. Nitrates or calcium channel blockers can help to relax the sphincter so food can pass through it more easily. Doctors might also use Botox to relax the sphincter.
- To treat achalasia more permanently, doctors can either dilate the sphincter or alter it. Dilation is typically done by inserting a balloon into the esophagus and inflating it. This stretches out the sphincter and helps the esophagus function better. However, sometimes dilation tears the sphincter. If this happens,additional surgery to repair it may be needed.
Esophagomyotomy is a type of surgery used to help people with achalasia. Doctors use a large or small incision to access the sphincter and carefully alter it to allow better flow into the stomach. The great majority of esophagomyotomy procedures are successful.
What Can Be Expected in the Long Term?
Prognosis for this condition varies. Some people only have very mild symptoms. For others, treatment can be highly successful. Sometimes multiple treatments are needed to handle symptoms.
Unfortunately, if a dilation procedure doesn’t work the first time, surgery may be needed. Usually, the chance of success decreases with each successive dilation. Therefore, doctors will often seek alternatives if several dilations are not successful.
The success rate for esophagomyotomy is thought to be 80-90%. However, patients may develop some complications. These include:
- issues related to tearing of the esophagus
- acid reflux
- respiratory conditions caused by food travelling up the esophagus and into the windpipe