The esophagus is the hollow tube that propels food from the throat to the stomach. Commons issues with the esophagus include the following:
Barrett’s esophagus is a condition that occurs when the tissue lining the esophagus is frequently exposed to stomach acid from reflux and begins to resemble the lining of the intestine. GERD is the primary risk factor of Barrett's esophagus.
With no specific symptoms, Barrett’s esophagus can only be diagnosed with an upper endoscopy and biopsy. Treatment may include lifestyle changes, medication, and/or surgery.
Dysphagia is a condition in which a someone has difficulty swallowing. In some cases, it may be painful or impossible to swallow. Persistent dysphagia may indicate a serious medical condition requiring treatment.
You can reduce your risk of having a difficult time swallowing by eating slowly and chewing your food well. Early detection and effective treatment of GERD can lower your risk of developing dysphagia associated with an esophageal restriction.
Esophageal cancer occurs most often in the lower portion of the esophagus. If cancer is suspected, several tests are used to confirm or deny its presence, including an upper endoscopy, EUS, biopsy, blood test, or imaging test (MRIs, PETs, CT scans). If detected, one of our team will help guide you toward the appropriate esophageal cancer treatment.
Esophageal varices are abnormal, enlarged veins in the lower part of the esophagus that occur most often in people with serious liver diseases, such as cirrhosis. These small, overtaxed vessels can begin to leak or rupture, leading to life-threatening bleeding.
Our team may use an upper endoscopy, imaging test (CT scan and MRIs), or video capsule endoscopy to detect esophageal varices. If needed, elastic bands may be applied to tie off bleeding veins, and medication may be taken to slow blood flow and reduce pressure in the abnormal vein.
Gastroesophageal reflux disease, or GERD, is a condition in which the acidic juices in the stomach comes back up into the esophagus (acid reflux) and irritate the esophageal lining. Normally, swallowed food travels down and through the bottom of the esophagus called the lower esophageal sphincter (LES) into the stomach. The LES acts as a one-way valve to prevent food from coming back up. In people with GERD, the LES is too relaxed and does not stop stomach acid and food from backing up into the esophagus. Unlike the stomach’s lining, the esophagus is not protected from stomach acid, and contact may irritate the esophageal tissue. Acid reflux and heartburn more than twice a week may indicate GERD.