Dr. Chuck Wen, left, and Keith Currah, who received treatment with Surrey Memorial Hospital’s new Per Oral Endoscopic Myotomy (POEM) equipment. (Submitted photo: Surrey Hospital Foundation(

Surrey Memorial is first in B.C. with POEM machine used for endoscopic treatment

Surgeon says equipment is ‘next-level, futuristic-type’

Keith Currah says it’s “amazing” that Surrey – where he lives – is the first place in the province to offer an incision-less surgery that helped him get his life back.

Surrey Memorial Hospital is the first in B.C. to have and offer surgery with the per oral endoscopic myotomy (POEM) equipment, according to the hospital foundation and surgeon Dr. Chuck Wen.

Before the surgery, Currah was unable to eat without symptoms of choking. The first symptoms, he said, began about 11 years ago.

“It really became a problem about three years ago when I started choking in the middle of the night,” Currah said.

“I would wake up choking and I had no idea what was going on, so that’s when all the testing started.

“I felt like I could drown.”

Then things got worse, he said.

Currah explained he was diagnosed with achalasia, which is a condition that affects a person’s esophagus and prevents the lower esophageal sphincter from opening up to swallow.

He was faced with two options: a laparoscopic procedure or the new POEM surgery.

“Because it’s new, I was uneasy about the whole idea of something completely new like that, but when it came down to it… I’d spoken with the surgeon and he felt really confident that it’s really the best way to go and I looked at the way that it’s done and the risks are really no different.”

Currah said POEM was “no more dangerous” than the more traditional surgical options.

“The risk of the POEM surgery is that they (the surgeons) might slip through the side of the esophagus and that could be a serious problem. But then the laparoscopic surgery, they could do something else down there from underneath the diaphragm and cause some other problems as well.”

In the end, Currah said, the decision came down to healing time, which was “really reduced” with the POEM procedure.

Wen said the POEM is a “cool technology” because there are no incisions at all.

“This is what’s called a natural orifice surgery, so we go through like the mouth and when the patient wakes up there’s absolutely no cuts at all,” said Wen.

Previously, he said, surgeons would have to cut through a patient’s abdomen.

Then as technology got better, there were small incisions, and “now there are no incisions.”

“It’s kind of like a next-level, futuristic-type surgery.”

The POEM machine, according to the Surrey Hospital Foundation, was purchased through a donation from the Gulshan & Pyarali G. Nanji Family Foundation.

Wen said Surrey’s thoracic surgery team is “very well supported in the community” and allows for the team “to have access to some of the best equipment in any major centre.”

“There aren’t that many centres in all of Canada that have it. It’s usually the top sites in the U.S. that have it,” he said.

READ ALSO: Surrey’s thoracic surgeons on cutting edge, Dec. 4, 2017

“In addition to POEM, there’s a whole bunch of other technology that we’ve secured here at Surrey Memorial,” Wen explained, “and it’s largely due to the participation of and donations of the local community that has just been super supportive.”


Like us on Facebook Follow us on Instagram and follow Lauren on Twitter

Just Posted

City of White Rock hosts official pier reopening

Event included ribbon-cutting, speeches, live music

Surrey school district to allow students to miss class for global climate strike

Students must be excused from school by parents; will be able to make up missed work without penalty

Surrey rallies for change in global climate strike

Holland Park event part of marches around the world Sept. 20

Surrey RCMP need help to find missing man

Denis Godard, 64, who was reported missing on Sept. 19

Little library stolen in Clayton Heights

Thieves permanently check out family’s book collection

VIDEO: Grizzly bears fight along northern B.C. highway in rare footage

Cari McGillivray posted the head-turning video, shot near Stewart, B.C., to social media

Handgun crackdown, health spending and transit plans latest campaign promises

Friday was the end of a busy week on the campaign trail

B.C. woman photographs massive ant swarm on Abbotsford driveway

She asked what the ants were doing? The answer: war

Iconic 90s TV show ‘Friends’ celebrates 25th anniversary

The iconic, decade-long television show aired its first episode 25 years ago today

Westbound crash on Highway 1 in Langley causing extreme traffic delays

Collision occured just after Glover Road, cars backed up all the way to 264th Street

Police arrest B.C. phone scammer linked to illegal call centres in India

Person arrested in Burnaby here on a work visa, says police

Air Canada forced girl, 12, to remove hijab: civil rights group

The San Francisco Bay Area office of the Council on American-Islamic Relations calling for change

Man from Winnipeg who was hiking alone found dead in Banff National Park

RCMP say the man was hiking alone on Mount Temple Thursday

Most Read

l -->