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The Swallowing and Heartburn Center brings together a team of gastroesophageal specialists who provide expert diagnosis, cutting-edge medical and surgical interventions and ongoing care for throat, esophagus and stomach disorders.
Working closely with both the patient and the referring physician, this multidisciplinary team works together seamlessly to develop a personalized treatment strategy for each patient and includes:
Our board-certified digestive health specialists work together to help patients diminish episodes of discomfort through diagnosis and treatment options, including a combination of medication, lifestyle changes, endoscopic therapies and, when appropriate, surgical procedures.
The Swallowing and Heartburn Center works collaboratively with surgeons in Massachusetts General Hospital’s Gastroesophageal Surgery Program to provide comprehensive, personalized treatment for patients with gastroesophageal conditions. Our surgeons specialize in complex surgical techniques, such as magnetic sphincter augmentation (LINX procedure) for the treatment of gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD) and endoscopic myotomy (POEM) for the treatment of achalasia. Learn more about this program
We are a leading resource for patients who have had previously unsuccessful antireflux operations.
We are also a leading center for the development of new therapeutic approaches, such as natural orifice transluminal endoscopic surgery (NOTES), in which surgery is performed without the need for incisions. Learn more about NOTES
We specialize in the surgical treatment of GERD (gastroesophageal reflux disease) and hiatal hernias. Read a news article
As high-volume surgeons, we have achieved excellent results in repairing hiatal hernias and relieving patients of GERD symptoms. Nearly 75% of patients undergoing surgery can discontinue acid suppressive medications and more than 90% of patients undergoing surgery at Mass General expressed a high degree of satisfaction with their outcomes. [Source: D.W. Gee et al. (2008). Measuring the Effectiveness of Laparoscopic Nissen Fundoplication: Long Term Results. Archives of Surgery 43, 482–487.]Other surgical interventions include:
Learn more about these procedures in the Department of Surgery
Minimally invasive treatments are often options for patients who would have required traditional open surgery in the past. These new techniques have the benefit of faster recovery times, smaller surgical scars and greater nerve preservation. Minimally invasive options include:
Surgery may not be an option for all patients or conditions. For those patients for whom surgery is not possible, minimally invasive ablation procedures include:
We provide patients and referring physicians with an experienced access coordinator, a clinician who is available to assess patients’ needs, coordinate appointments and begin the appropriate testing regimen. Call 617-724-6038 or request an appointment online
We are a leading referral center in New England for the treatment of achalasia, a common swallowing problem, and provide treatment and ongoing care for the full range of gastroesophageal and swallowing conditions, including:
We provide patients and referring physicians with an experienced access coordinator, a clinician who helps assess patient needs, coordinate appointments and begin the appropriate testing regimen. Calls will be returned within 24 hours. Contact the Swallowing and Heartburn Center’s access coordinator
The Digestive Healthcare Center is the one of few centers in the Eastern United States currently offering gastroduodenal manometry and Smartpill technology, which detects conditions related to nonfunctioning stomach muscles, including gastroparesis and GI motility disorders of the small bowel and colon.
We offer inpatients a quick turnaround and highly specialized, expert analysis of their test findings, 24 hours a day, for a range of diagnostic and therapeutic procedures. Our endoscopists are available around the clock to confer with referring physicians. Diagnostic services include:
Our diagnostic radiology team comprises dedicated imaging specialists whose practice focuses specifically on GI scans. They are nationally recognized for expertise in all forms of sophisticated imaging and offer a full range of advanced diagnostic techniques, including:
Referring physicians can request these diagnostic studies by contacting the Swallowing and Heartburn Center’s access coordinator.
Our physicians are active in clinical trials and research studies related to gastroesophageal and swallowing disorders, allowing us to bring our patients promising new treatments as quickly as possible.
Our surgeons have helped evaluate first generation endoluminal therapies, such as the NDO Plicator and the Bard EndoCinch Suturing System, involving minimally invasive surgeries performed through the esophagus. We are currently evaluating newer developments in this area such as the Esophyx Totally Intraluminal Fundoplication.
We also published a landmark study demonstrating that not all patients with paraesophageal hernias would benefit from surgery. [Source: N. Stylopoulos et al. (2002). Paraesophageal Hernias: Operation or Observation. Annals of Surgery 236, 492–501.]
Current pioneering research efforts include:
Patients interested in participating in clinical trials can browse online for open trials.
Barrett's esophagus is a condition in which normal cells that line the esophagus turn into cells not usually found in humans called “specialized columnar cells.”
Esophageal cancer is cancer that develops in the esophagus, the muscular tube that connects the throat to the stomach.
Gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD) is a digestive disorder that is caused by gastric acid flowing from the stomach into the esophagus.
Gastroparesis is a stomach disorder in which the stomach takes too long in emptying its contents.
Halitosis is an oral health condition characterized by consistently odorous breath.
H. pylori is a spiral-shaped bacterium found in the stomach, which (along with acid secretion) damages stomach and duodenal tissue, causing inflammation and peptic ulcers.
A hiatal hernia occurs when the upper part of the stomach pushes up into the chest through a small opening in the diaphragm, the muscle that separates the stomach from the chest.
Indigestion, also known as dyspepsia, is a painful or burning feeling in the upper abdomen and is usually accompanied by nausea, bloating or gas, a feeling of fullness, and, sometimes, vomiting.
An ulcer is an open sore, or lesion, usually found on the skin or mucous membrane areas of the body.
Stomach cancer, also known as gastric cancer, is cancer that starts in any part of the stomach.
Bob Hazelton lived with chronic acid reflux for years and was diagnosed with esophageal cancer in 2011. After his surgical team at Massachusetts General Hospital performed a minimally invasive esophagectomy, Bob has a healthy esophagus and is getting back to his active lifestyle.
The MGH offers its first per-oral endoscopic myotomy (POEM) procedure, a new surgical treatment for achalasia.
A new capsule-like device may provide an alternative screening method for Barrett’s esophagus and esophageal cancer.
The New England Journal of Medicine publishes the three-year results of a study of the safety and effectiveness of a new device for treatment of gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD).
The MGH was the first hospital in New England to offer a new procedure in which a flexible bracelet of magnetic titanium beads is laparoscopically implanted around the esophagus to help treat GERD.
David Rattner, MD, chief of the Division of Gastrointestinal and General Surgery at the Mass General Digestive Healthcare Center, answers frequently asked questions (FAQ) about the LINX® Reflux Management System, a new treatment option for gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD).
Massachusetts General Hospital introduces an innovative procedure for patients experiencing symptoms of GERD. A bracelet of magnetic beads can help the lower esophageal sphincter to resist gastric pressures and prevent reflux.
Finally, good news for patients who have chosen not to have surgery to treat their gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD) because they doubted surgery’s effectiveness. A new study reveals the benefits of a simple procedure that can vastly improve their quality of life. And, even better, the relief offered by this surgery is lasting and doesn’t require the hassle and expense of taking proton pump inhibitors (PPIs) and other prescription and over-the-counter drugs.
David Ryan, MD, explains the reasons for the current epidemic of esophageal cancer.
David Rattner, MD, explains the management of gastroesophageal reflux, including indications for medical, endoscopy and surgical interventions to control this condition.
Christopher Morse, MD, reviews minimally invasive treatments for esophageal cancer, including esophageal resections. Please note that this video contains images from a real procedure and may cause discomfort for some viewers.
David Rattner, MD, Co-Chief of the Massachusetts General Hospital Digestive Healthcare Center describes how chronic heartburn can lead to other serious conditions, who is most at risk and how Barrett's esophagus and esophageal cancer can be diagnosed and treated.
Endoscopic mucosal resection (EMR) is a specialized endoscopic technique used by gastroenterologists at the Massachusetts General Hospital Digestive Healthcare Center to diagnose and remove large areas of early gastrointestinal cancers.
Radiofrequency ablation (RFA) is an FDA-approved endoscopic technique used by specialists at the Massachusetts General Hospital Barrett's Esophagus Treatment Center to treat Barrett's esophagus.
LINX® Reflux Management System is an innovative minimally invasive procedure used by Massachusetts General Hospital surgeons to treat appropriately selected patients experiencing symptoms of gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD). For more information, visit massgeneral.org/LINX
Swallowing and Heartburn Center
To begin the appointment process, contact the Swallowing and Heartburn Center access coordinator at 617-724-6038 or request an appointment online.
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