The esophagus is the hollow, muscular tube that moves food and liquid from the throat to the stomach. The wall of the esophagus is made up of several layers of tissue, including mucous membrane, muscle, and connective tissue. The stomach and esophagus are part of the upper digestive system.
Learn more about esophageal conditions below, including:
- Benign Esophageal Tumors
- Esophageal Cancer
- Esophageal Cysts
- Esophageal Achalasia
- Esophageal Diverticula
Benign Esophageal Tumors
These growths on the wall of the esophagus are often benign and not life-threatening. Most, however, go undetected until they grow large enough to cause dysphagia, a condition that makes swallowing difficult. When this happens, surgeons typically use a small VATS (Video-Assisted Thoracic Surgery) excision in the chest to insert a specially designed lighted microscope and video camera. The tumor is then isolated and removed through the small incision.
Esophageal Cancer is a disease in which malignant (cancer) cells form in the tissues of the esophagus.
The esophagus is the hollow, muscular tube that moves food and liquid from the throat to the stomach. The wall of the esophagus is made up of several layers of tissue, including mucous membrane, muscle, and connective tissue. Esophageal cancer starts at the inside lining of the esophagus and spreads outward through the other layers as it grows.
Learn more about esophageal conditions and cancer care at MedStar Georgetown.
These growths in the lining of the esophagus can cause difficulty swallowing and problems with breathing. Depending on the location of the cyst, a surgeon may use VATS or another minimally-invasive surgical approach to remove them.
Esophageal achalasia prevents a patient's lower esophagus muscles from relaxing and allowing food to enter the stomach. Symptoms include:
- Painful or difficulty swallowing
- Coughing or gagging while swallowing
- Regurgitation of food
- Feeling of food being stuck in the throat, chest, or behind the breastbone
Treatment options include:
- Esophageal dilation: This minimally invasive treatment employs a balloon or flexible tube attached to an endoscope to gently stretch your esophagus.
- Heller Myotomy: A minimally-invasive surgical approach in which a surgeon makes multiple tiny incisions in the abdomen to open the area that is too tight between the border of the stomach and esophagus.
Esophageal diverticula are small pouches that form in the esophagus. Most patients are unaware of these pouches until they fill with food and become inflamed or infected, also known as diverticulitis. Symptoms include:
- Difficulty swallowing (dysphagia)
- Regurgitation of food
- Repeated pneumonia
- Repeated episodes of inhaling food into your breathing passages or lungs
- Bad breath (halitosis)
Minimally-invasive surgery for esophageal conditions, performed using VATS, is the recommended treatment.