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Doctors explain an esopphageal scan to a patient

The Esophageal Program

The Northwestern Medicine Esophageal Program, part of the Northwestern Medicine Digestive Health Center, was established in 2009. The program represents the fruition of more than three decades of expertise in esophagology.

The Esophageal Program is one of the largest referral points in the Midwest for esophageal function testing, which tests how well food is able to move through the esophagus. International observers routinely visit to learn from our practices. The Esophageal Program combines all essential elements needed for ongoing clinical excellence and technical innovation: thoughtful clinicians, sophisticated diagnostic testing, clinical research and state-of-the-art surgical practices.

Our physicians have authored many of the current guidelines for the treatment and management of gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD), swallowing disorders and other conditions. Our investigators have pioneered the most modern diagnostic therapies, which include tests that monitor your acid reflux (wireless esophageal pH monitoring) and tests that monitor for causes of difficult swallowing (high-resolution digital manometers and functional lumen imaging probes).

Our surgeons treat a wide variety of disorders of the esophagus. These surgical treatments include minimally invasive and robotic surgery, transhiatal and transthoracic resection of the esophagus, partial and complete fundoplication for GERD, lengthening procedures for complex esophageal repairs, and transoral stapling (without an incision) of Zenker's diverticulum.

Northwestern Medicine Digestive Health Center staff members work closely with allergists, thoracic surgeons, surgical oncologists, dietitians, pathologists, radiologists and clinical oncologists to ensure that the best possible therapies are chosen.

If you are seen in the Esophageal Program (with benign disease) or the Robert H. Lurie Comprehensive Cancer Center of Northwestern University (with esophageal cancer), you will receive a comprehensive, multidisciplinary evaluation. This will lead to a personalized treatment plan developed by physicians that is appropriate for your diagnosis and disease stage. This treatment plan will address your symptoms, maximize your quality of life and aim to enhance your survival.

Meet the Team

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The Northwestern Medicine Esophageal Program is one of the largest referral points in the Midwest for esophageal function testing, and patients will receive a comprehensive, multidisciplinary evaluation as well as an individualized plan for the diagnosis and staging of their condition.

Meet the Downtown Chicago Esophageal Team

Research

The Esophageal Program focuses on benign and malignant disorders of the esophagus, including GERD, hiatal hernia, achalasia, Barrett's esophagus, diverticula, tumors and esophageal cancers.

Our current research focuses on esophageal and oropharyngeal physiology and pathophysiology, including:

  • Oropharyngeal studies that aim to describe the normal mechanics of swallowing and the modifications that can happen with treatment (using computerized analysis of manometric and videofluorographic swallowing studies)
  • Pathophysiologic studies of the oropharynx focused on the mechanisms that cause dysphagia and the efficacy of volitional compensatory strategies in modifying these defects
  • Analysis of esophagogastric junction pathophysiology using high-resolution manometry for reflux disease and esophageal motor disorders
  • Eosinophilic esophagitis

Our previous research has focused on central nervous system neurophysiology and autonomic nervous system neurophysiology related to sodium homeostasis and screening for esophageal cancer.

Conditions

Tests

Treatments 

The Rising Threat of Esophageal Cancer: "When Heartburn May be Something More"

Treating heartburn with over-the-counter medicines provides short-term relief, but if the symptoms persist it can cause more harm than good. Heartburn has the ability to mimic more serious conditions such as acid reflux and GERD. Article features Srinadh Komanduri, MD.

Innovation In Achalasia Treatment

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We're checking out an innovative procedure that's making a big difference in the lives of people with achalasiaa rare swallowing disorder. We'll learn how this procedure helped one woman get back to her favorite hobby. Segment features Eric Hungness, MD.