The Heartburn Center at Swedish Medical Center offers diagnosis and treatment for esophageal and gastric disorders.
We work hard to ensure we make the right diagnosis from the start. Then, using the best technology and latest techniques, we create a comprehensive, individualized treatment plan. We offer care for conditions of the foregut (esophagus and stomach), including:
GERD (Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease), also known as chronic heartburn, occurs when excess stomach juice is allowed into the esophagus because of a weakened valve between the esophagus and stomach (called the lower esophageal sphincter). GERD patients experience heartburn, chest pain, indigestion, excessive throat clearing, hoarseness, chronic cough and/or asthma regularly.
Achalasia is a condition in which the nerve fibers of the esophagus are damaged, affecting the patient's ability to push food down the esophagus or not allowing the valve at the end of the esophagus (lower esophageal sphincter) to move properly. As a result, the esophagus does not empty correctly, causing dysphagia (food "sticking"), chest pain, regurgitation and/or heartburn.
Barrett's Esophagus occurs when the cells of the lower esophagus are changed due to chronic exposure to stomach acid (reflux). Normally, the cells of the lower esophagus are like skin cells, but after irritation and damage, they can change to cells that form glands and secrete mucus. This genetic damage, called metaplasia, puts the patient at a much increased risk (30-125 times) for esophageal cancer.
Gastroparesis is a condition in which the stomach does not empty properly and food sits in the stomach for longer than it should. This condition can be the result of diabetes, narcotic dependence or may happen for unknown reasons. It causes nausea, vomiting, reflux, weight loss and abdominal pain.
Hiatal Hernia/Paraesophageal Hernia
A hiatal hernia occurs when the upper part of the stomach goes up through the opening in the diaphragm (the muscle between the chest and abdomen) where the esophagus is normally. This weakens the effectiveness of the anti-reflux barrier. Most patients experience symptoms of acid reflux-- more than 90 percent of reflux patients have some degree of a hiatal hernia.
LPR (Laryngopharyngeal Reflux)
LPR occurs when stomach juice comes up through the esophagus and goes into the back of the throat. This causes irritation to the vocal cords and lungs. Symptoms may include throat clearing, hoarseness, weak/cracking voice, chronic cough, recurring sinus infection (with no other known cause). LPR symptoms may occur with or without heartburn.
Esophageal Cancer and Tumors
Esophageal cancer occurs when cells of the esophagus are mutated or changed and begin to grow out of control. Adenocarcinoma (most common form in the U.S.; begins in the lower esophagus), squamous cell carcinoma (most common form worldwide; typically occurs in the middle of the esophagus); choriocarcinoma (rare); lymphoma (rare); melanoma (rare); sarcoma (rare) and small cell cancer (rare).
Stomach Cancer and Tumors
Stomach cancer occurs when cells of the stomach mutate or change and grow out of control. We treat both benign (non-cancerous tumors) and malignant (cancerous tumors) of the stomach.
Crohn's Disease is a form of inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) that occurs when the immune system destroys healthy tissue, leading to chronic inflammation of the GI (gastrointestinal) tract.
Colitis a term used to describe swelling of the colon (large intestine), caused by infection, inflammatory disorders (such as ulcerative colitis and Crohn's Disease), lack of blood flow and/or radiation to the bowel. Symptoms include abdominal pain, fever, diarrhea, bloody stool, dehydration, continuous urge to have a bowel movement.
Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS)
IBS is a condition in which the intestines are more sensitive and contract more than normal, leading to abdominal pain and cramping and changes in bowel movements. To be diagnosed with IBS, symptoms must be present for at least three days a month for the last three months.