Gastroenterology

Esophageal and Swallowing Disorders

Penn Medicine Center for Esophageal and Swallowing Disorders

The Penn Medicine Center for Esophageal and Swallowing Disorders offers a coordinated, comprehensive approach to treat esophageal disorders, including:

  • Achalasia: A disorder affecting the ability of the esophagus to move food into the stomach.
  • Barrett's esophagus: A disorder in which the lining of the esophagus is damaged by stomach acid.
  • Eosinophilic esophagitis: An allergic inflammatory disease comprised of elevated eosinophils in the esophagus despite acid blocking treatments.
  • Esophageal cancer: Though relatively uncommon in the United States, esophageal cancer occurs when there is a malignant tumor in the esophagus — the tube that carries food to the stomach.
  • Gastroesophageal Reflux (GERD): A condition that occurs when a muscle at the end of the esophagus does not close properly, allowing stomach contents to leak back — or reflux — into the esophagus and irritate it.
  • Hoarseness: Difficulty producing sound to speak or a change in the pitch or quality of the vocal chords — usually caused by inflammation of the larynx, but sometimes indicating a more serious problem.

Millions of Americans complain of heartburn and acid reflux, or have difficulty swallowing. These mouth, throat or esophagus problems may be caused by:

  • Malfunctioning of physical structures.
  • Damage to the nerves or muscles coordinating swallowing.
  • Physical obstruction.

Left untreated, esophageal and swallowing disorders can lead to serious problems. Early diagnosis and intervention are very important.

The multidisciplinary team at Penn includes:

Some esophageal disorders can be precancerous conditions. The Penn Medicine Center for Esophageal Disorders works closely with the Abramson Cancer Center of the University of Pennsylvania to provide a seamless continuum of care for patients.

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