In a matter of just eight months, Netra Chowdhary became a shadow of herself. The 37-year-old software consultant from Goregaon found it difficult to keep food down and lost 7kg. After multiple tests and unsuccessful consultations with health experts, she chanced upon information on her symptoms on the Internet and got in touch with Dr Amit Maydeo, director of the Baldota Institute of Digestive Sciences, Global Hospital, at Parel.
It was there that the mother of one was diagnosed with achalasia cardia, a rare disorder in which the oesophagus (food pipe) prevents normal swallowing and passing of the food to the stomach. Luckily for her, Dr Maydeo was just the man for the job. He is one of the first few doctors in India conducting a groundbreaking incision-free procedure — the per-oral endoscopic myotomy (POEM).
Launched three months ago, the procedure, offered only in Mumbai now, has been conducted on 16 patients. Its results, say doctors, have been remarkable.
The major symptom of achalasia cardia, explains Dr Maydeo, is usually difficulty in swallowing. “In this disorder, cells in the food pipe degenerate. The reason for this is not known.”
While conducting a POEM, an endoscope is used to tunnel through the wall of the oesophagus, which helps food to be pushed down to the stomach. “After being discharged, the patient can eat without any difficulty,” says Dr Maydeo, who was awarded the Padma Shri this year. Since the endoscope is introduced through the mouth, there is no bleeding and recovery is quick. A patient can be discharged in two days.
Chowdhary, who underwent the procedure on January 30, is keeping her hopes pinned on this assurance.