Our Approach

The Heartburn, Reflux & Esophageal Specialty Center at Stamford Health is a unique multidisciplinary center dedicated to adult esophageal disorders.

  1. Gastroenterologist: a specialist in esophageal disease and digestive disorders
  2. Thoracic Surgeon: a surgeon specializing in all disorders of the esophagus, from reflux to esophageal cancer
  3. Pulmonologist: a lung specialist who treats breathing problems which may result from GERD
  4. Otolaryngologist (ear, nose, and throat specialist): treats symptoms such as hoarseness and trouble swallowing

At the Heartburn, Reflux & Esophageal Specialty Center, we understand your symptoms and work to determine the actual cause of your problem so we can get you back to the life and activities you enjoy.

Why Choose Us

  • Our physicians bring special skills and experience in treating complex problems.
  • The Center provides the most advanced diagnostic testing and treatment technologies to help make diagnosis quicker, more accurate, and often less invasive.
  • We offer minimally invasive treatments to help reduce complications and make procedures, hospital stays, and recovery shorter and easier for our patients.
  • Patients who need surgery receive state-of-the-art treatment at Stamford Hospital. The hospital provides the most advanced care and exceptional patient experience in a safe, warm, and welcoming environment.

Symptoms of Esophageal Disease

Symptoms may include any of the following:

  • Frequent heartburn, or a burning sensation in the chest or throat
  • Chest pain
  • Regurgitating food or stomach contents into the mouth
  • Chronic sore throat or a chronic cough
  • Pain that radiates from the chest to the arms, neck or back
  • Sudden excessive saliva or foam in the mouth
  • Laryngitis or a hoarse voice
  • Difficulty or pain when swallowing 
  • Choking or retching at night
  • Pneumonia
  • Complete inability to swallow
  • Severe malnutrition 

While these are symptoms of GERD, they can also be a sign of something more serious. If you're having symptoms, physicians may recommend any of the following testing which is performed at our Center.

  • Bravo pH Probe: Wireless device which detects acid in the esophagus
  • Endoscopic Ultrasound: Your doctor inserts an endoscope that uses sound waves to provide detailed images of the esophagus
  • High-Resolution Esophageal Manometry: A wire with pressure sensors into the esophagus to measure how well it passes food into the stomach
  • Esophagram: A video x-ray of the esophagus as you swallow liquid contrast
  • Upper Endoscopy: An endoscope examines the lining of the esophagus and stomach, and biopsies can be performed

Esophageal Cancer Screening

While still rare, esophageal cancer is the fastest growing cancer diagnosis in the U.S. and is often deadly when left undetected. There are several risk factors for esophageal cancer, and patients suffering from frequent heartburn or acid reflux are at a higher risk. Esophageal cancer can be treated successfully if it is found early through screening.
Previously, the only screening method was endoscopy, a procedure which requires anesthesia. This new screening technology is called EsoGuard and can identify pre-cancerous cells (often linked to a condition called Barrett’s esophagus) that can be effectively eradicated through an outpatient procedure called ablation. Esophageal screening is recommended for patients who have three or more of the following risk factors for esophageal cancer: chronic reflux/heartburn symptoms, male, age 50+, white race, obese, smoker, or family history of Barrett’s esophagus or esophageal cancer. To schedule a screening or request more information, please call 203.276.GERD.

Conditions We Treat

Barrett’s Esophagus: A condition in which damage to the lining of the esophagus leads to potentially harmful changes to healthy cells.

Diverticulum: A pouch in a weak area of the esophagus that can increase in size and cause difficulty in swallowing, regurgitation and choking.

Dysphagia: Difficulty in swallowing which can be due to a range of causes.

Esophageal Achalasia: A swallowing problem caused by the loss of the nerve cells that control the swallowing muscles in the esophagus, so food and liquid cannot pass through easily.

Esophageal Cancer: Cancer that starts in the esophagus and can progress throughout the body. When discovered early, a cure is possible.

Esophageal Spasms: Strong and irregular contractions of the muscles in the esophagus which may cause severe pain and difficulty swallowing.

Esophageal Stricture: A narrowing of the esophagus, often from scar tissue, that may cause choking and swallowing problems.

Esophagitis: Irritation of the lining of the esophagus, which may be caused by chronic acid reflux, some medicines, allergies, and infections; long-lasting esophagitis can lead to Barrett’s Esophagus.

GERD (gastroesophageal reflux disease): A condition in which acid from the stomach backs up into the esophagus, causing irritation, pain, and other symptoms.

Hiatal Hernia: A condition where the stomach is displaced from the abdomen into the chest which is a common cause of GERD symptoms. In the worst cases, most of the stomach may have moved behind the heart, causing shortness of breath, anemia and potentially life-threatening complications.

Treatment Options

The Center offers the latest procedures performed by the most experienced physicians. We aim for minimally invasive options if appropriate which may include endoscopic, laparoscopic or robotic surgery. Michael Ebright, Columbia University thoracic surgeon, performs these surgeries right in Stamford.

Robotic Fundoplication: A minimally invasive operation to prevent gastroesophageal reflux by wrapping part of the stomach around the base of the esophagus

Robotic Hiatal Hernia Repair: A minimally invasive operation to repair a hiatal hernia

Robotic Magnetic Sphincter Augmentation (LINX): A new surgicalLaparoscopic Surgery Procedure for Esophagus Health procedure using small incisions to place a small, expandable band of magnetic titanium beads around the esophagus. This strengthens the valve between the esophagus and stomach, preventing reflux and other symptoms.
Transoral Incisionless Fundoplication (EsophyX):
LINX Surgery for Reflux Treatment: An endoscopic procedure that can recreate a functional gastroesophageal valve to eliminate or reduce GERD.

Robotic Esophageal Myotomy: A minimally invasive operation to treat achalasia and restore normal swallowing function

Dilation: A balloon is used to gently stretch a narrow part of the esophagus

Stenting: A hollow tube is placed in the esophagus to open a blocked area in the esophagus

Botox Treatment:
Medication is injected into muscles of the esophagus to treat problems like muscle spasms and achalasia (a muscle problem causing reflux of food and acid)

Endoscopic Zenker’s Diverticulum Repair: Completely incision-less repair of a blind pouch in the upper esophagus

Radiofrequency Ablation for Barrett’s Mucosa: An endoscopic procedure that uses radiofrequency energy to restore normal esophageal lining in patients with Barrett’s esophagus.

Endoscopic Mucosal Resection:
An endoscope is used to biopsy or remove precancerous growths or early-stage cancer from the lining of the esophagus.

Minimally Invasive Esophagectomy:
An operation performed most commonly for esophageal cancer where most or all of the esophagus is removed. Our Center performs the operation in a minimally-invasive format whenever possible, eliminating the need to spread the ribs, resulting in quicker recovery.

Meet Our Team

We have assembled a team of physicians, all dedicated to treating patients with heartburn, reflux, and all other problems associated with the esophagus—the muscular tube connecting the throat to the stomach. This team is led by, Michael Ebright, MD, Director, Thoracic Surgery and Vice-Chair, Department of Surgery at Stamford Hospital, and Associate Clinical Professor of Surgery and Attending Surgeon at Columbia University Medical Center.

Michael  Ebright
Thoracic Surgery

(203) 276-4404

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Shannon J Morales

(203) 276-8490

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Scott J Kramer

(203) 489-6900

Neal J. Schamberg

(203) 489-6900

Jacquelyn M. Brewer

(203) 353-0000

Alex  Ortega
Pulmonary Medicine, Critical Care Medicine

(203) 348-2437

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Lauren E Drysdale
Thoracic Surgery

(203) 276-4404

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Program Coordinator

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