Esophageal Diseases Tests and Diagnoses

Esophageal Diseases Tests and Diagnoses

Esophageal Diseases Tests and Diagnoses

Your physician may conduct a number of diagnostic tests to determine the nature and severity of your esophageal disease, including:

  • Barium swallow radiograph: This test involves drinking a barium solution that will allow an X-ray image to spot abnormalities such as ulcers, a hiatal hernia or stricture (narrowing) in the esophagus.
  • Upper endoscopy: This test can be performed in a physician’s office or hospital. Your physician will lightly sedate you and numb your throat before sliding a thin, flexible plastic tube (endoscope) down your throat. A light and tiny camera lens at the end of the endoscope lets the physician see the surface of the esophagus, to confirm a diagnosis. The physician may, if necessary, perform a biopsy (take a small tissue sample) using tiny tweezers (forceps) that are passed through the endoscope. This may then be examined by a pathologist to determine if the tissues are abnormal.
  • Esophageal manometry: A thin, pressure-sensitive tube is slowly passed back through your esophagus, designed to see if your esophagus is contracting and relaxing properly. Useful for diagnosing swallowing disorders.
  • pH monitoring examination: This test uses a small tube inserted in the esophagus for 24 to 48 hours to monitor how and when acid enters the esophagus. If used in conjunction with a food diary (a log indicating amounts and types of food eaten at specific times), this allows your physician to find a correlation between symptoms and reflux. This test may also be used to determine whether respiratory symptoms are caused by reflux.
  • Esophageal impedance: This test measures gas or liquids that reflux into the esophagus and is useful in helping assess regurgitation of non-acidic substances. It is delivered by means of a catheter.

The Thoracic Surgery Program at Northwestern Memorial Hospital offers the latest surgical procedures for benign and malignant diseases of the chest, including the tracheobronchial tree (airways), lungs, pleura, esophagus, diaphragm, chest wall and mediastinum. Our program is comprised of a highly-specialized team that provides integrated care and practices medicine centered on each patient’s unique circumstances, including:

  • Comprehensive and seamlessly coordinated care across multiple physician disciplines, with team members from:
    • Medical oncology
    • Radiation oncology
    • Interventional pulmonology
    • Thoracic pathology
    • Thoracic radiology
  • A highly specialized team of nurses, anesthesiologists and support personnel
  • Advanced diagnostic technologies
  • Minimally invasive surgical techniques
  • Convenient and customized patient and family services
  • Significant expertise in minimally invasive surgical techniques
  • Nationally recognized clinical experts
  • Demonstrated quality outcomes
  • Access to novel therapies and clinical trials
  • Commitment to collaboration with referring physicians
  • Collaboration with pharmaceutical, device and biotechnology companies in clinical trials to improve patient care and advance thoracic science