Miriam Bradfield can enjoy steaks again, and she credits Dr Amit Maydeo for this. The Australian national underwent a ground-breaking procedure POEM (Per Oral Endoscopic Myotomy) – a non-invasive scarless surgery – at Global Hospital, Parel, and has been cured of achalasia cardia. The patients who suffer from this condition, where food pipe muscles thicken and fail to relax, have difficulty in swallowing food.
“I could not swallow food for a year and would wake up in the middle of night to throw up. I used to constantly feel a lump in my chest region, only to realise that the food I was eating would be stuck in my food pipe,” said the 65-year-old.
Bradfield recalled that she first started experiencing problems swallowing in March last year. “Gradually things got so bad that I restricted myself from eating non-vegetarian or solid food. I used to eat slowly and drink lot of water to shove the food down my throat,” she said.
Bradfield said she initially thought she was unable to chew her food properly because of her dentures. “The problem, however, was difficulty in swallowing. I started living on mashed food, fruits such as bananas and a liquid diet. But soon I realised I needed a permanent solution,” she said.
The hope for cure brought Bradfield to Mumbai, where she was diagnosed with achalasia cardia. “I had the option of returning to Australia, but I preferred to have my treatment in Mumbai as my online research showed Dr Maydeo is the best! I did a thorough research on achalasia cardia and POEM and I am happy to have chosen Global Hospital over Australian centres” she said, adding, “Ï can eat hearty meals, including steaks, now.”
Dr Maydeo, the director of the Baldota Institute of Digestive Sciences, Global Hospital, said, “Though Bradfield is my 800th patient for the procedure, it was a challenge as she had a longstanding history of achalasia. Her food pipe had become curvaceous because of prolonged food retention. There were abnormal blood vessels in the food pipe, which also made the procedure tricky.” While it takes Dr Maydeo less than an hour time for the procedure, Bradfield’s took nearly an-hour-and-a-half.
Dr Maydeo, who is the first to start this procedure in India, said in Mumbai alone 200-300 cases of achalasia cardia are reported every year. “I started performing this procedure since October 2012. Then, we thought achalasia cardia is rare. While earlier we used to have one case in 2.5 lakh people, it has gone up to about 10 in 1 lakh people. Many even go unreported,” he said.
Dr Maydeo cautioned that ‘not being able to swallow’ should be treated as an alarm as it can be a symptom of cancer. “We do not know the exact reason of achalasia cardia but if not treated on time, in 7-8% of cases can progress to food pipe cancer,” he said.
Meanwhile, it has been a happy ending for Bradfield, who is one of Dr Maydeo’s most challenging cases. As luck would have it, she will continue to live in the city for another year as her husband has been posted here. “I didn’t even feel much pain during or after the surgery. Post the procedure, I had a slight soreness in my throat. But everything tastes so much better now. I feel normal,” she beamed.
Don’t ignore these symptoms
Achalasia patients have difficulty in swallowing food, sometimes not even water or their own saliva.
The condition can also cause reflux, chest pain and eventually food pipe cancer, doctors say.