Conditions


AchalasiaBarrett’s EsophagusCystsGallstonesGastrointestinal CancerGastroparesisPancreatitisStricturesZenker’s Diverticulu


Achalasia

A disorder where the muscle of the lower esophagus does not completely relax after swallowing, trapping food in the esophagus. Achalasia is often misdiagnosed or goes completely unnoticed because the symptoms, like difficulty swallowing, are very similar to other gastrointestinal conditions.

One advanced treatment for achalasia is per oral endoscopic myotomy (POEM).


Barrett’s esophagus

A condition caused by chronic acid reflux. While the stomach is well equipped to handle acid, the esophagus is not. Over time, acid reflux creates a film on the lining of the esophagus, leading first to Barrett’s and then to esophageal cancer if left untreated. Esophageal cancer associated with Barrett's has increased by over 500 percent in the past few decades.

Obesity, poor diet, alcohol use and chronic reflux may all contribute to the development of Barrett’s esophagus and esophageal cancer. Around 15 percent of people with acid reflux have Barrett’s and people with a family history of esophageal cancer are at a higher risk. Symptoms include persistent heartburn, trouble swallowing, chronic cough, chest pain and more.

Barrett’s esophagus is diagnosed by a minimally invasive procedure called an endoscopy.

Can acid reflux cause cancer?

Acid reflux – that burning feeling in your chest or throat that sometimes happens after you eat. It’s a common complaint from many people. But is it dangerous? Read more.


Cysts

Sacs of fluid that can form in the pancreas, liver or other part of the digestive tract. They can form because of a hereditary predisposition or result from another condition like pancreatitis or gastrointestinal cancer. Cancer is capable of producing cysts, but most cysts are noncancerous and people live a full life without ever knowing they have them.

Cysts usually do not cause any symptoms, but patients can sometimes experience abdominal pain or bowel blockage.

Several advanced procedures are used to detect and treat cysts including Endoscopic retrograde cholangiopancreatography (ERCP) and Endoscopic ultrasound (EUS).


Gallstones

Gallstones form when cholesterol and other things found in bile make stones. They can also form if the gallbladder does not empty the way it should. Gallstones can range from the size of a grain of salt to the size of a Ping-Pong ball. Most gallstones do not cause problems, but they can travel to the bile duct and get stuck. In these cases, treatment is usually needed.

People who are overweight or who are trying to lose weight quickly are more likely to get gallstones. Symptoms include mild pain in the belly, jaundice, fever and chills. Gallstones may even feel like chest pain caused by a heart attack or other serious problems.

Several advanced procedures are used to treat gallstones including Endoscopic retrograde cholangiopancreatography (ERCP) and Electrohydraulic lithotripsy (EHL).


Gastrointestinal cancer

A broad term for cancer that occurs anywhere in the GI tract. This occurs when abnormal cells grow uncontrollably and form tumors, most commonly in the esophagus, gallbladder, bile duct, pancreas and stomach.

Many gastrointestinal cancers are diagnosed in more advanced stages of the disease because early stages may not cause any symptoms. Risk factors may include family history, advanced age, obesity, tobacco use high alcohol consumption and more.

We use several advanced GI procedures to detect and treat GI cancers including Endoscopic mucosal resection (EMR) and endoscopic submucosal dissection (ESD), Endoscopic eradication therapy (EET), Endoscopic ultrasound (EUS), and Endoscopic retrograde cholangiopancreatography (ERCP).


Gastroparesis

Occurs when nerves in the stomach don’t work properly and food is trapped in the stomach for longer than usual. This delay changes the digestion process, often leading to discomfort.

Symptoms include nausea, vomiting, bloating and the feeling of being full when eating a small amount of food. Gastroparesis is often caused by diabetes and thyroid disorders.

One advanced treatment for gastroparesis is per oral endoscopic myotomy (POEM).


Pancreatitis

Inflammation of the pancreas, often caused by gallstones or long-term misuse of alcohol. The pancreas makes hormones and digestive enzymes that help you break down food. If the enzymes move into different parts of the pancreas, they can irritate it and cause pain and swelling.

Symptoms of pancreatitis, like pain in the upper belly or back, can happen quickly or emerge over the course of several years. If left untreated, pancreatitis can cause life-threatening damage or infection.


Strictures

Abnormal narrowings of the digestive tract, usually in the esophagus, bile duct, pancreatic duct or pylorus. Strictures can be cancerous or non-cancerous and are caused by scar tissue or tumors that obstruct the tract and interfere with normal GI function. For example, acid reflux can cause damage to the esophagus and the resulting scar tissue can narrow the esophagus and cause a stricture.

Strictures sometimes display symptoms like difficult or painful swallowing, heartburn, regurgitation or vomiting, and frequent hiccupping or burping.

Strictures are treated using an advanced procedure called Endoscopic retrograde cholangiopancreatography (ERCP).


Zenker’s diverticulu

An abnormal, pouch-like structure that forms where the pharynx and esophagus meet. Swallowing requires a complex coordination of muscles in the mouth, pharynx and esophagus. If one or more of these muscles isn’t working properly, pressure can build up and cause a weak part of the pharynx wall to balloon out. Over time, the pouch can grow large enough to collect swallowed foods.

Acid reflux and advanced age likely play a role in Zenker’s. Symptoms may include difficulty swallowing, regurgitation, bad breath, hoarseness, persistent cough and more. Some people find they must resort to special maneuvers to empty the pouch, like turning their head and pressing a specific spot on the neck. If left untreated, symptoms can get worse with time.

One advanced treatment for Zenker's diverticulu is per oral endoscopic myotomy (POEM).


Want to discuss one of these conditions with an experienced GI specialist? Call 860.545.1888.

Gastroenterology Division

  • Gastroenterology Division
    Hartford Hospital
    85 Jefferson Street
    Hartford, CT 06102
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    Fax: 860.545.2785

  • To connect with one of our expert Gastroenterology specialists, call
    860.545.1888