Occasional heartburn is normal, especially after a spicy Louisiana crawfish boil. But up to 40 million Americans suffer from persistent symptoms of gastroesophageal reflux disease, or GERD, a painful condition that can lead to more serious health issues.

Heartburn and acid reflux are two conditions that commonly affect the gastrointestinal system (GI). Reflux, also known as acid reflux, occurs when stomach acid travels back up the esophagus and into the mouth. Heartburn, a burning sensation in the chest, is a symptom of reflux. Gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD) is the result of a weak muscle within the esophagus, called the lower esophageal sphincter, which acts as a reflux barrier within the body.

If you have heartburn, nausea and other symptoms of GERD or acid reflux, contact us today at (504) 988-5110 to schedule an appointment with one of our specialists.

Advanced evaluation and treatment

the Tulane Heartburn and Esophageal Surgery Center provides patients in New Orleans and throughout the region with expert diagnosis, treatment and surgical options. Treatment options offered by the Tulane Heartburn and Esophageal Surgery Center include:

  • Robotic surgery, for treatment of:
    • Esophageal cancer
    • Para-esophageal and hiatal hernias with repair and Nissen fundoplication
    • Achalasia with Heller myotomy
  • Minimally invasive laparoscopic surgery
  • Surgical endoscopy, including the per-oral endoscopic myotomy (POEM procedure)
  • LINX reflux management system, using metallic beads that rebuild the lower esophagus to prevent reflux
  • Esophageal stent placement, to stent the esophagus open and block holes/perforations
  • Ovesco clip placement, state-of-the=art endoscopic clips to close holes/perforations in the stomach and esophagus
  • High-resolution esophageal manometry, 24-hour pH/impedance and Bravo pH

Conditions treated

  • GERD – the backward flow of the stomach’s contents into the esophagus, often causing severe, persistent heartburn.
  • Barrett’s esophagus – a painful condition usually the result of repeated exposure to stomach acid.
  • Dysplasia – the presence of abnormal cells with esophageal tissue, which may develop into cancer if untreated.
  • Esophageal cancer – more often found in men than women, this form of cancer is frequently associated with tobacco or alcohol use.
  • Hiatal hernia – also known as a stomach hernia, this occurs when the stomach bulges up through the diaphragm muscle, into the chest cavity.
  • Gastroparesis - a condition that affects the stomach muscles and prevents the stomach from properly emptying.
  • Gastric cancer - more commonly called stomach cancer, risk factors may include smoking and a diet of highly processed or salty foods.
  • Achalasia – a condition associated with the loss of nerve cells in the esophagus.
  • All esophageal dysmotility disorders – swallowing disorders associated with irregular, unsynchronized or absent esophageal contractions.
  • Other conditions associated with the esophagus

Risk factors

There are multiple risk factors that can play a role in developing heartburn or reflux symptoms. Some of these include:

  • Being overweight
  • Performing jobs that require stooping, bending or heavy lifting
  • Being 40 years old or older
  • Pregnancy
  • Diabetes
  • Smoking
  • Diet and certain lifestyle choices, including a consumption of alcohol, citrus, caffeinated beverages, tomato-based foods, chocolate, spicy foods and peppermint

Is heartburn a sign of GERD?

Heartburn is a common symptom that affects about 20 percent of Americans. However, it is also a key symptom and indicator of GERD, especially if your heartburn:

  • Occurs twice or more a week
  • Affects your sleep
  • Persists and becomes more severe
  • Has occurred regularly for several years
  • Other symptoms of GERD

Aside from chronic heartburn, GERD may also manifest in other symptoms, like difficulty swallowing, shortness of breath, wheezing, chest pain, a chronic, non-productive dry cough, achalasia (failure of the lower esophageal sphincter to open when swallowing), acid reflux, asthma, dysphagia, heartburn, hiatal hernia, indigestion and regurgitation.

Do you have GERD?

Take a few moments to go through a quick checklist of qualifying questions to understand if GERD treatment is an option for you.

  • Do you experience an uncomfortable feeling behind the breastbone that seems to be moving upward from the stomach?
  • Do you have a burning sensation in the back of your throat?
  • Do you experience a bitter acid taste in your mouth?
  • Do you often experience these problems after meals?
  • Do you experience heartburn or acid indigestion two or more times per week?
  • Do you find that antacids only provide temporary relief from your symptoms?
  • Do you take prescription medication to treat heartburn, but still have symptoms?

Did you answer “yes” to two or more of the questions above? Call us today to speak to a team member about your next step with a specialist at (504) 988-5110.

Patient Stories

Charlotte Kirsch

Charlotte Kirsch enjoyed a full, active life with her family and kept busy working in a retail position. With her grandson nearby, she was often spending time with him. Charlotte had never smoked, and although she had high blood pressure, she was otherwise...   Read more about Charlotte Kirsch

MarieClare Powell

Sister MarieClare Powell was a generally healthy 90-year-old, enjoying her golden years and active lifestyle living in Mississippi. But for about two years, she frequently felt nauseous and had to eat cautiously, being careful of the amount of food she...   Read more about MarieClare Powell

For more information or to refer a patient, please call (504) 988-3739 or fax (504) 988-5624.