Copyright ©The Author(s) 2019. Published by Baishideng Publishing Group Inc. All rights reserved.
World J Gastroenterol. Jan 7, 2019; 25(1): 1-41
Published online Jan 7, 2019. doi: 10.3748/wjg.v25.i1.1
Endoscopic foregut surgery and interventions: The future is now. The state-of-the-art and my personal journey
Kenneth J Chang
Kenneth J Chang, H.H. Chao Comprehensive Digestive Disease Center, University of California, Irvine Medical Center, Orange, CA 92868, United States
Author contributions: Chang KJ designed the overall concept, outline of this manuscript and was responsible for writing, and editing of the manuscript.
Conflict-of-interest statement: Dr. Chang has either received educational grants or served as a consultant for the following companies (in alphabetical order): Apollo, Boston Scientific, Erbe, C2 Therapeutics, Cook, Covidien, Endogastric Solutions, Mederi, Medtronic, Olympus, Ovesco, Pentax, Torax.
Open-Access: This article is an open-access article which was selected by an in-house editor and fully peer-reviewed by external reviewers. It is distributed in accordance with the Creative Commons Attribution Non Commercial (CC BY-NC 4.0) license, which permits others to distribute, remix, adapt, build upon this work non-commercially, and license their derivative works on different terms, provided the original work is properly cited and the use is non-commercial. See:
Corresponding author: Kenneth J Chang, MD, FACG, FASGE, Professor, Gastroenterology and Hepatology Division, H.H. Chao Comprehensive Digestive Disease Center, University of California, Irvine Medical Center, 101 The City Drive, Orange, CA 92868, United States.
Telephone: +1-714-4566187 Fax: +1-714-4567520
Received: November 28, 2018
Peer-review started: November 28, 2018
First decision: December 5, 2018
Revised: December 13, 2018
Accepted: December 14, 2018
Article in press: December 14, 2018
Published online: January 7, 2019

In this paper, I reviewed the emerging field of endoscopic surgery and present data supporting the contention that endoscopy can now be used to treat many foregut diseases that have been traditionally treated surgically. Within each topic, the content will progress as follows: “lessons learned”, “technical considerations” and “future opportunities”. Lessons learned will provide a brief background and update on the most current literature. Technical considerations will include my personal experience, including tips and tricks that I have learned over the years. Finally, future opportunities will address current unmet needs and potential new areas of development. The foregut is defined as “the upper part of the embryonic alimentary canal from which the pharynx, esophagus, lung, stomach, liver, pancreas, and part of the duodenum develop”. Foregut surgery is well established in treating conditions such as gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD), achalasia, esophageal diverticula, Barrett’s esophagus (BE) and esophageal cancer, stomach cancer, gastric-outlet obstruction, and obesity. Over the past decade, remarkable progress in interventional endoscopy has culminated in the conceptualization and practice of endoscopic foregut surgery for various clinical conditions summarized in this paper. Regarding GERD, there are now several technologies available to effectively treat it and potentially eliminate symptoms, and the need for long-term treatment with proton pump inhibitors. For the first time, fundoplication can be performed without the need for open or laparoscopic surgery. Long-term data going out 5-10 years are now emerging showing extended durability. In respect to achalasia, per-oral endoscopic myotomy (POEM) which was developed in Japan, has become an alternative to the traditional Heller’s myotomy. Recent meta-analysis show that POEM may have better results than Heller, but the issue of post-POEM GERD still needs to be addressed. There is now a resurgence of endoscopic treatment of Zenker’s diverticula with improved technique (Z-POEM) and equipment; thus, patients are choosing flexible endoscopic treatment as opposed to open or rigid endoscopy options. In regard to BE, endoscopic submucosal dissection (ESD) which is well established in Asia, is now becoming more mainstream in the West for the treatment of BE with high grade dysplasia, as well as early esophageal cancer. In combination with all the ablation technologies (radiofrequency ablation, cryotherapy, hybrid argon plasma coagulation), the entire spectrum of Barrett’s and related dysplasia and early cancer can be managed predominantly by endoscopy.

Importantly, in regard to early gastric cancer and submucosal tumors (SMTs) of the stomach, ESD and full thickness resection (FTR) can excise these lesions en-bloc and endoscopic suturing is now used to close large defects and perforations. For treatment of patients with malignant gastric outlet obstruction (GOO), endoscopic gastro-jejunostomy is now showing better results than enteral stenting. G-POEM is also emerging as a treatment option for patients with gastroparesis. Obesity has become an epidemic in many western countries and is becoming also prevalent in Asia. Endoscopic sleeve gastroplasty (ESG) is now becoming an established treatment option, especially for obese patients with body mass index between 30 and 35. Data show an average weight loss of 16 kg after ESG with long-term data confirming sustainability. Finally, in respect to endo-hepatology, there are many new endoscopic interventions that have been developed for patients with liver disease. Endoscopic ultrasound (EUS)-guided liver biopsy and EUS-guided portal pressure measurement are exciting new frontiers for the endo-hepatologists.

Keywords: Endoscopy, Foregut diseases, Gastroesophageal reflux disease, Endoscopic sleeve gastroplasty, Endoscopic submucosal dissection, Per-oral endoscopic myotomy, Endo-hepatology

Core tip: In this paper, we demonstrate how foregut diseases, such as gastroesophageal reflux disease, achalasia, Barrett’s esophagus with dysplasia and early cancer of the esophagus and stomach, Zenker’s diverticulum, obesity, gastric outlet obstruction, and gastroparesis, which have been traditionally treated surgically are now being diagnosed and treated endoscopically. For each section, I will review “lessons learned”, then discuss some “technical considerations” and consider “future opportunities”.