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Treatment for Esophageal Conditions

​We offer patients state-of-the-art diagnostic and surgical techniques, along with medication and lifestyle approaches. The knowledge we gain from research and clinical trials helps us provide the highest level of esophageal care.

We diagnose many conditions with state-of-the-art endoscopy, a nonsurgical procedure used to examine your digestive tract. An endoscope is a flexible tube with a light and camera attached to it so we can view images of your digestive tract on a color monitor. Endoscopy can also used as a tool for minor procedures to treat some conditions.

When surgery is needed, we work side by side with UC San Diego Health's minimally invasive and robot-assisted surgery teams. For many conditions, our surgeons can use techniques that leave no external scars.

See many of the most common esophageal conditions and information about their treatments below.


Achalasia (Swallowing Disorder) 

Achalasia occurs when the muscular ring that closes off the esophagus to the stomach fails to open when swallowing and leads to a backup of food in the esophagus. Our team has defined the classification of achalasia used worldwide and created national guidelines for achalasia care.

We offer the following treatments for achalasia:

Peroral endoscopic myotomy (POEM) is a relatively new endoscopic procedure used to treat the dysfunctional muscle. A benefit of having an endoscopic procedure, especially for swallowing disorders, is that there are no incisions in the chest or abdomen. A minimal or sometimes no hospital stay is needed after the procedure. We are one of only a few select centers in the US to offer this less-invasive approach to treating swallowing disorders.

Laparoscopic Heller myotomy is a surgical approach in which small incisions are made in the abdomen or chest to access and treat the dysfunctional muscle. In some cases a surgery to prevent acid reflux will be performed at the same time.

Pneumatic and ESOFLIP dilations are endoscopic procedures that involve inflating a rigid balloon to disrupt the dysfunctional muscle. A benefit of dilations is that there are no surgical incisions and a hospital stay is not needed after the procedure.

Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease (GERD)

GERD occurs in one-third of the population and causes acid indigestion and heartburn. Treatment often includes acid-blocking drugs and surgery. Our team includes researchers who lead the field in GERD. They actively conduct clinical trials for novel treatment strategies, including  mindfulness, behavioral and psychological therapies (such as hypnotherapy), and endoscopic procedures.

LINX (magnetic sphincter augmentation) is a surgical procedure that implants a ring of magnets around the lower esophagus to tighten the anti-reflux valve. We are one of a few select centers in the country to offer this novel anti-reflux surgical approach.

Laparoscopic surgical fundoplication is a surgical procedure that is performed through small incisions in the abdomen during which the stomach is wrapped around the lower esophagus to create a tight anti-reflux valve. Learn more about surgical fundoplication

We work closely with the Center for Integrative Medicine to integrate mindfulness, relaxation strategies, breathing techniques, and psychological therapies to treat nerve sensitivity that can worsen GERD.         

UC San Diego Health also has a unique aerodigestive program in collaboration with the Center for Voice & Swallowing to manage patients with upper airway symptoms from GERD, such as cough and laryngopharyngeal reflux.

Barrett's Esophagus

Barrett's esophagus can be a serious complication of GERD and can lead to esophageal cancer over time. UC San Diego Health uses the latest screening and monitoring methods to find and treat esophageal cancer as early as possible, using the least invasive techniques.

We use these endoscopic procedures to treat Barrett's esophagus:

Radiofrequency ablation uses heat energy to destroy diseased tissue and is a first-line therapy for endoscopic eradication of Barrett's esophagus. More about radiofrequency ablation

Endoscopic mucosal resection removes precancerous, early-stage cancer or other abnormal tissues (lesions) from the digestive tract.

Endoscopic submucosal dissection removes deep tumors from the digestive tract. Currently only select centers in the United States offer this novel endoscopic eradication approach for Barrett's esophagus.

Eosinophilic esophagitis

Eosinophilic esophagitis mainly affects young people and causes difficulty in swallowing, which can lead to food getting caught in the esophagus. We have a robust partnership with Rady Children's Hospital-San Diego to create seamless transitions in care for adolescents. We also partner with dieticians to create targeted food-elimination strategies.