A Diet for Heller Myotomy

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Heller myotomy surgery resolves achalasia, a condition in which the individual has difficulty swallowing foods and liquids. This condition results from a problem with the sphincter between the stomach and esophagus. The patient undergoing this operation needs to follow a special diet for four weeks afterward, according to the University of California at Los Angeles Health System.

The Condition

Achalasia occurs when the muscle fibers where the esophagus and stomach meet do not relax and allow food to continue into the stomach. Food becomes stuck, leading to regurgitation of undigested food. People with this condition also are at increased risk of pneumonia.


During Heller myotomy, the surgeon cuts the circular sphincter muscle at the meeting of the esophagus and stomach. This is usually done laparoscopically, and is a minimally invasive technique. The procedure disables the lower esophagus sphincter and allows food to move into the stomach, according to the Advanced Medical Technology Institute, or AMTI.


The Heller myotomy patient begins a liquid diet the day after surgery, reports the AMTI. If you can tolerate liquids, the hospital allows you to leave the second day after surgery. A liquid diet continues for two weeks, and you then transition to a pureed diet. After about a month, you can progress to regular food.


For the first three days after the Heller myotomy surgery, drink clear liquids only, advises the UCLA Health System website. Clear liquids include ice pops and gelatin in addition to water, clear fruit juice and clear broth. Do not drink carbonated beverages or thick liquids. Change to a full liquid diet for the next three days. This is defined as anything you can pour; but continue to exclude carbonated drinks. Some possibilities include strained soups, thinned hot cereals, pudding and ice cream. A soft diet is indicated for the next three weeks. This includes liquids and foods that require very little chewing. Well-cooked pasta, rice, fish, ground turkey, vegetables and soft fruit are examples. Do not eat bread, raw vegetables, crunchy foods or unground meats that you need to chew.


The first day of your clear liquid diet, drink only a half-cup of liquid at one time, and don't gulp, recommends the UCLA Health System website. Gradually work your way up to 1 cup at a time if that is comfortable. When you switch to the full liquid diet, begin with 1 cup at a time and again, gradually increase the amount. Have frequent small meals. Alcohol is off limits if you're taking narcotic medication.