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 Cysts

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

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
  • Heartburn
  • 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

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)
  • Heartburn
  • Regurgitation of food
  • Hoarseness
  • Repeated pneumonia
  • Repeated episodes of inhaling food into your breathing passages or lungs
  • Bad breath (halitosis)

Minimally-invasive esophageal surgery, performed using VATS, is the recommended treatment.