Growth and Innovation

Knox Private Hospital introduces new procedure to provide dramatic relief


Oesophageal motility disorders aren’t a common medical ailment recognised by the general population, however for a large number of Australians the debilitating condition can take over their lives.

Patients suffering from the very broad class of disorder, commonly referred to as Achalasia, sustain long-term swallowing issues that can manifest as food being stuck in their throat, chest pain of regurgitation.

Mr Geoff Kohn, Upper GI Surgeon from Knox Private Hospital explains that these disorders are notoriously difficult to assess on the basis of symptoms, and precise, reliable testing is critical to make the correct diagnosis.

“Achalasia and other swallowing disorders are usually caused by problems with the oesophageal muscles and problems with the lower oesophagus sphincter muscles not relaxing, making it hard to swallow and hard for the food to pass into the stomach. Other symptoms besides swallowing issues may be heartburn, weight loss and an overall low quality of life,” explains Mr Kohn.

Knox Private Hospital together with Mr Kohn, recently introduced a new endoscopic procedure to treat oesophageal motility disorders called Peroral Endoscopic Myotomy (POEM).

“POEM is a relatively new procedure that uses endoscopic technology to relieve tightness and allows the oesophagus to empty like it should normally to allow food to pass down into the stomach,” explained Mr Kohn.

The POEM procedure involves inserting a endoscope through the mouth, allowing Mr Kohn to operate on the oesophagus’ muscles and to avoid making any incision anywhere on the body. This is a major operation performed with minimal pain, rapid results and no scars.

Justin Greenwell, General Manager, Knox Private Hospital explains that the benefit of an endoscopic procedure, especially for swallowing disorders is that there is no incisions in the chest or abdomen.

“A driving force in our technological healthcare focus is the outcome for the patient. Our patients undertaking these procedure are experiencing minimally invasive surgeries are able to spend the minimum, if not no time in hospital post op,” explains Justin.

A patient of Mr Kohn’s was recently treated at Knox Private Hospital, who had symptoms for over two and half years and struggled to get a confirmed diagnosis.

Mr Kohn explained that it wasn’t until his patient undertook her own research and found the symptoms of Achalasia along with the treatment options for the disorder, that she realised that there were medical options for her.

“Over the past two and a half years my patient was not able to undertake full time employment due to her condition. Through her own research she came across POEM and sought out and appointment with my clinic, all resulting in a successful surgery,” explains Mr Kohn.

“We need to increase the awareness of the disorder to ensure people suffering from Achalasia know that there is a treatment option for them,” explains Mr Kohn.