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Esophageal Center

The Center for Esophageal Disease, led by John E. Pandolfino, MD and Peter J. Kahrilas, MD, focuses on benign (non-cancerous) and malignant (cancerous) disorders of the esophagus, including gastro-esophageal reflux disease (GERD), hiatal hernia, achalasia, Barrett's esophagus, cysts, diverticulums (including Zenker's diverticulum), benign tumors, and esophageal cancers. The center works closely with colleagues in allergy, thoracic surgery, surgical oncology, dietary, pathology, and radiation and clinical oncology.


The center’s current research focuses on esophageal and oropharyngeal physiology and pathophysiology, including:

  • Oropharyngeal studies are aimed at describing the normal mechanics of swallowing and the modifiability that can be imposed therapeutically. These studies use computerized analysis of manometric and videofluorographic swallowing studies.
  • Pathophysiologic studies of the oropharynx focus on mechanisms that result in dysphagia and the efficacy of volitional compensatory strategies in modifying these defects.
  • Analysis of esophagogastric junction pathophysiology, through the use of high-resolution solid-state manometry, with respect to reflux disease and esophageal motor disorders.

Previous research interests have included central nervous system neurophysiology, autonomic nervous system neurophysiology as it relates to sodium homeostasis, and screening for esophageal cancer.

Education and Clinical Experience

The Esophageal Center has the largest base of medical specialty residents within the Department of Medicine. Trainees gain experience in many approaches used for disorders of the esophagus, including: minimally invasive techniques, transhiatal, and transthoracic resection of the esophagus, partial and complete fundoplications for reflux disease, lengthening procedures for complex esophageal repairs and transoral stapling (without an incision) of Zenker's diverticulum.