Cutting-edge Esophageal Procedure Performed for First Time in Baton Rouge

Apr 4, 2022 | Team Member Spotlights

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If you hear people talking about Dr. LeBlanc’s POEMs at Our Lady of the Lake, he is not aspiring to write Shakespearean sonnets.  

Nicholas LeBlanc, MD, is a Board Certified thoracic surgeon making strides to ensure Louisianans have access to the most cutting-edge esophageal procedures and treatments. After his extensive studies in the field of thoracic surgery, he moved home to Louisiana to bring state-of-the-art options to our own backyard. His goal is to provide patients with local options to receive the most innovative treatments and prevent patients from having to travel for advanced care.   

Dr. LeBlanc recently performed the first successful peroral endoscopic myotomy—otherwise known as the POEM procedure—in the Baton Rouge region. The POEM procedure is a relatively new advancement only a few medical centers can tout offering. This cutting-edge endoscopic procedure is used as an incisionless alternative to minimally invasive surgery for treating achalasia, a disorder in which the sphincter muscles in the lower esophagus are too tight and can’t relax, making it difficult to swallow or allow food to pass through the esophagus into the stomach. Our Lady of the Lake is proud to offer patients the best options for treatment and always strives to ensure our local care is on the forefront of technological advancements.    

In late 2021, a patient was referred to Dr. LeBlanc with achalasia after multiple other endoscopic treatments had failed. Dr. LeBlanc was able to use the endoscope to cut some of the esophageal and gastric muscle fibers and open the esophageal pathway into the stomach. After a short hospitalization, the patient returned home on a modified diet until he was able to begin eating solid foods again. Of course, Dr. LeBlanc soon found out in his follow up clinic the patient was doing so well he had started eating fried chicken again! 

Since this first POEM procedure at Our Lady of the Lake, Dr. LeBlanc has performed it for additional patients with great success. Being that it’s a fairly new procedure in U.S. health systems, it’s a testament to the talents of the Our Lady of the Lake Physician Group that patients can get this caliber of innovative care. 

“Without the POEM procedure being offered here, patients may have to travel 100 miles or more to receive the same quality of advanced care,” Dr. LeBlanc says. “This is a big development in Louisiana patient care, and I am proud to be a part of the progression. Offering this option means patients who might not be a good surgical candidate or who may not want surgery at all now have a safe alternative with comparable outcomes to surgical intervention. Importantly, patients will have access to the POEM procedure without the stressors and expenses of travel.” 

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