When people suffer from chronic heartburn, it can signal a problem in the esophagus. Gundersen has specialists who can diagnose esophageal disorders and set up a treatment plan tailored to needs.
The esophagus—commonly called the food pipe—is a narrow, muscular tube that begins below the tongue and ends at the stomach. When a person swallows food, the esophagus moves it into the stomach where acid and various enzymes break it down.
The most common condition of the esophagus is GERD or gastroesophageal reflux disease. With GERD, stomach contents leak back into the esophagus. This can cause heartburn and other symptoms.
GERD can often be treated with changes to eating habits and lifestyle, taking antacids or with prescription medications. Surgery may be an option if lifestyle changes and medications do not work.
Surgical options we offer
- LINX – Your surgeon will place a ring of interlinked titanium beads with magnetic cores around the lower esophageal sphincter. The magnets are used to close off the barrier between your stomach and esophagus, restoring your body’s ability to stop reflux. This minimally invasive procedure avoids any anatomical change to your stomach.
- Nissen Fundoplication – Our surgeons will restructure the valve that closes off the top of the stomach. This will keep food and fluid from refluxing into the esophagus.
Other reasons esophageal surgery may be needed
- Loosening of the muscles, or valves, at the bottom of the esophagus
- Removal of some or all the esophagus for cancer, ulcers or uncontrolled bleeding
- Non-functioning or partially non-functioning esophagus
Surgeons can often perform these procedures with a laparoscopic or minimally invasive surgery. For esophageal cancer, the stomach may be pulled up into the esophagus to replace the part that was removed.