Heartburn/acid reflux, Barrett's esophagus, GERDCall for an appointment
Duke specialists diagnose and treat chronic heartburn caused by gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD), and Barrett's esophagus. We use sophisticated techniques to evaluate the muscle health of your esophagus, and monitor food flow from your mouth to stomach. When lifestyle and medications do not work, our surgeons are expertly equipped in a variety of minimally invasive procedures that can relieve your discomfort, and help you return to your daily activities.
Comprehensive care for acid reflux and Barrett’s esophagus
If you suffer from heartburn, a burning sensation in your chest after eating or have trouble swallowing, you could be experiencing acid reflux. A prompt diagnosis can lead to fast relief from the uncomfortable symptoms that occur when acid seeps into your esophagus. We use the latest diagnostic techniques to identify the cause of your acid reflux, and start you on therapy to relieve your discomfort. We can also rule out or provide effective, personalized treatment for chronic and serious conditions such as esophagitis, an inflammation of the lining of your esophagus, and Barrett's esophagus, a change in in the lining of your esophagus, which can lead to esophageal cancer.
Choose Duke for your esophagus disorders because we offer:
- Diagnostic expertise. We combine new techniques with years of experience to make prompt diagnoses that reduce your discomfort. For example, by placing tiny electronic monitors within the stomach, we assess esophageal function in real time.
- Dedicated laboratory. Our doctors work in a clinic created to test esophageal muscle functions, known as motility, and measure acid levels in your digestive track. We assess the esophagus and its interaction with the stomach.
- A commitment to your comfort. We make sure you are comfortable and relaxed during testing that may require swallowing tubes or wires to monitor your digestive functions.
- Surgical excellence. If surgery is needed, you will be cared for by our general surgeons or thoracic specialists who regularly perform complex surgeries involving the esophagus and stomach.
- Collaborative care. Our doctors work closely with specialists in tissue and organ imaging and lab experts who undergo advanced training in gastroenterology, and have dedicated their careers to identifying esophagus disorders.
- Patient education. The pain and discomfort common to reflux or swallowing disorders often creates anxiety. We discuss your symptoms, the likely causes, and your test results so you are fully aware and involved in all treatment decisions.
Diet frequently contributes to acid reflux. Lifestyle changes that result in weight loss can reduce reflux symptoms if you are overweight. We may also recommend physical changes such as eliminating food intake before bed, and elevating the head of your bed to reduce symptoms.
A variety of medications may be recommended or prescribed based on the severity of your symptoms.
- Over-the-counter antacids. Neutralize stomach acid.
- H2 antagonists. Relieve symptoms by blocking a receptor responsible for producing acid in the stomach.
- Proton-pump inhibitors. Block the secretion of stomach acid.
If esophageal muscle function is impaired, we may recommend a procedure to stretch the muscles. For severe, medication-resistant reflux, the stomach can be wrapped around the lower end of the esophagus. Other severe conditions require partial removal of the stomach or esophagus, as well as complex reattachment.
May be an option when diet, exercise, and/or medication have not been successful.
A flexible, lighted tube called an endoscope is used to reach the esophagus. Radio frequency waves are used to heat and thicken the muscles to restore the natural barrier that prevents acid reflux.
A flexible, lighted tube called an endoscope is used to reach the esophagus. The Esophyx device pulls on the fundus, which is part of the stomach, to recreate the barrier that prevents acid reflux.
When medication has not been successful, a minimally invasive surgical procedure may be performed to wrap the fundus, which is part of the stomach, around the lower end of the esophagus. It is secured with stitches. This prevents acid reflux.
Using a laparoscope, a ring of titanium beads is surgically implanted around a weakened, lower esophageal sphincter (muscle). This prevents the content of the stomach from backing up into the esophagus. It does not prevent food or liquids from moving down the esophagus into the stomach.
An endoscope with an electrode at its tip is inserted into the mouth to reach the esophagus. The electrode delivers heat energy, which destroys the diseased lining of the esophagus.
A thin, flexible tube inserted into your mouth lets your doctor view inside your esophagus, stomach and small intestine.
A tiny electronic device inserted by catheter through the nose detects weaknesses within the esophagus by monitoring strength and patterns of muscle function.
Diagnoses reflux and its severity by measuring acid content within the esophagus.
Esophageal tissue samples or biopsies are used to monitor for esophageal cancer in people with Barrett's esophagus.