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Esophageal Care at Rockford Gastroenterology Associates

Posted on: March 27th, 2023 by Our Team

RGA is committed to providing expert, comprehensive care that meets all your digestive health needs. Our Center of Excellence in Swallowing and Esophageal Diseases is made up of specialty physicians who are experts in diagnosing and treating disorders of the esophagus.

Overview of the Esophagus

Your esophagus is the hollow, muscular tube located behind your windpipe (trachea) that functions as part of your digestive system. As you swallow, your esophagus contracts in rhythmic waves to help move food and liquid down to your stomach. When your esophagus is not in use, the band of muscle called the lower esophageal sphincter closes to prevent stomach acid from flowing from the stomach to the mouth.

As you age, the strength of esophageal contractions and the upper and lower esophageal sphincters decreases. The weakening of these muscles can make you susceptible to common esophageal disorders.

Esophageal Disorders

There are many common disorders of the esophagus that can affect a person’s quality of life. At RGA, we believe in prompt identification of these disorders and take a proactive approach in treatment.

The most common problem that can affect your esophagus is acid reflux. Caused by lower esophageal sphincter opening when it’s not supposed to, acid reflux occurs when stomach acid flows from your stomach into your esophagus causing inflammation and heartburn.

A more severe form of acid reflux is called gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD). If left untreated, it can lead to serious complications such as trouble swallowing, Barrett’s esophagus, and esophageal cancer.

Eosinophilic esophagitis (EoE) is a condition rising in incidence in the population. EoE is an “allergic response” within the esophagus that leads to inflammation, strictures, and trouble swallowing. Our physicians are well-versed in the growing evidence of treatment options including new therapies available for management of this condition. We manage a large cohort of patients with EoE and have seen significant improvement in quality of life.

Other problems that can affect your esophagus include:

  • Achalasia – a rare disorder in which your lower esophageal sphincter doesn’t open (or completely relax) when it’s supposed to
  • Barrett’s esophagus – esophageal damage which causes the lining of the esophagus to thicken and become red
  • Dysphagia – difficulties swallowing certain foods or liquids or being unable to swallow at all
  • Esophageal chest pain – chronic chest pain unrelated to your heart, often a symptom of acid reflux or GERD
  • Esophageal motility disorder – swallowing difficulties, spasms or pain, or regurgitation of food
  • Esophageal stricture – abnormal tightening or narrowing of the esophagus
  • Hiatal hernia – occurs when part of the stomach protrudes up into the chest through the sheet of muscle called the diaphragm

Esophageal Disorder Treatments at RGA

Our Center of Excellence in Swallowing and Esophageal Disorders continues to improve and provide the highest quality of care in our area. We follow up-to-date national guidelines, but also tailor our treatment options to each individual patient. We’re home to a state-of-the-art swallowing center and outpatient surgical center allowing us to perform specialized testing and routine, outpatient endoscopies.

At RGA we specialize in the following esophageal treatments and procedures:

  • Bravo pH monitoring to identify reflux disease
  • Endoscopies
  • Radio frequency ablation
  • Esophagrams
  • High-resolution esophageal manometry
  • Modified barium swallowing tests\

We strive to educate our patients to be better informed about their conditions. Our goal is to not only help patients live a life free of symptoms, but to prevent them from developing additional complications.

To schedule an appointment with a physician from our Swallowing and Esophageal Disorders Center of Excellence, give us a call at 815-397-7340.

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