Cardiovascular and Thoracic Surgery

Diseases of the Esophagus

Your Care Team

Digestive SystemUTMB Health provides comprehensive, expert care for patients with cancer of the esophagus and other related diseases.

Today most esophageal and foregut surgeries are performed in a minimally invasive manner. Robotic-assisted surgery adds to the benefits thanks to its 3D high-definition computerized technologies.

Our thoracic surgeons are highly skilled in minimally invasive procedures for esophageal and foregut diseases and cancer. Outcomes with minimally invasive procedures are significantly more effective in treating conditions. Hospital stay is also shortened.

Your multidisciplinary care team at UTMB will work together with the surgeons throughout your treatment and keep you informed of all of your treatment options. Multidisciplinary care is associated with improved patient outcomes and enables teams of experts to examine a case from every possible angle.  Members of the team then meet with patients to help them create the plan that's right for them. In general your team will consist of your primary care physician, gastroenterology team, radiation oncology team, thoracic surgery team, pathologist team, radiology team, nurses, physician assistants, allied health professionals, residents and fellows and clinical trials coordinators.

Our areas of expertise include: Click the title to read more

Esophageal Cancer

The esophagus is a muscular tube that extends from the neck to the abdomen and connects the mouth to the stomach. Cancer, or a malignant tumor, is the result of uncontrolled growth of cells located in a particular region of the body. Cancers can be made of many different types of cells. The lining of the esophagus is the most common region for cancers of the esophagus to begin.

Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease (GERD)

Gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD) is a chronic digestive disease that occurs when stomach acid or, occasionally, bile flows back (refluxes) into your food pipe (esophagus). The backwash of acid irritates the lining of your esophagus and causes GERD signs and symptoms.

Hiatal (Para-esophageal) Hernia

A hiatal hernia occurs when part of your stomach pushes upward through your diaphragm. Your diaphragm normally has a small opening (hiatus) through which your food tube (esophagus) passes on its way to connect to your stomach. The stomach can push up through this opening and cause a hiatal hernia.


The esophagus is a muscular tube that extends from the neck to the abdomen and connects the back of the throat to the stomach. When a person swallows, the coordinated muscular contractions of the esophagus propel the food or fluid from the throat to the stomach. If the muscular contractions become uncoordinated or weak, interfering with movement of food down the esophagus, this condition is known as a motility disorder. Motility disorders cause difficulty in swallowing, regurgitation of food, and, in some people, a spasm-type pain.

Esophageal Duplication Cyst

Esophageal duplication cysts are rare inherited lesions usually diagnosed in early childhood. Most of them are found in the mediastinum and manifest themselves as separate masses along or in continuity with the native esophagus.

Esophageal Diverticulum

An esophageal diverticulum is a pouch that protrudes outward in a weak portion of the esophageal lining. This pocket-like structure can appear anywhere in the esophageal lining between the throat and stomach.

Typically, esophageal diverticula are nuisances that enlarge slowly over many years, gradually producing increasing symptoms, such as dysphagia, regurgitation and aspiration pneumonia, caused by breathing in regurgitated diverticula content.

When symptoms of esophageal diverticula worsen, a person may be unable to swallow due to an obstruction near the diverticulum; rarely, the esophagus may rupture. An obstruction or rupture caused by an esophageal diverticulum is dangerous, and both complications require immediate attention.