The esophagus is a muscular tube that connects the throat to the stomach. The top of the esophagus has muscles that control swallowing and breathing, while the bottom has muscles which prevent stomach contents and acid from returning to the esophagus from the stomach. There are a number of diseases and conditions that can affect the esophagus, including:
GERD, or heartburn is the number one GI complaint in the country. Although common and never life-threatening by itself, it can be a sign of more serious problems such as ulcers or pre-cancerous changes in the esophagus. Often it is caused by reflux, a condition in which the stomach acid backs up into the esophagus. Most often it can be treated with lifestyle changes or medication. Occasionally, minimally invasive surgery is necessary for patients who prefer not to remain on medication.
This procedure is called Fundoplication. It has been shown to be effective in preventing reflux. Patients who undergo the Fundoplication procedure usually spend 24 hours in the hospital and are back to work within a week.