What Is Reflux? Reflux disease, also known as GERD or LPR or LPRD, is a condition where stomach contents come back up the esophagus and burn the throat, vocal cords, and lining of the esophagus. It can be caused by a loose “valve” between the esophagus and stomach, can be caused by dietary intolerances, or by eating the wrong foods. It can present as hoarseness, thick mucus in the throat, throat clearing, swallowing trouble, chronic sore throat, or chronic cough.
Diagnosing reflux requires proving that acid is causing the irritation in the throat as many other sources of irritation can exist. Dr. Anderson uses pharyngeal pH measurement (typically 24 hours only) to diagnose reflux that is causing throat problems. In a recent publication by Dr. Anderson, almost half of the patients with chronic hoarseness and cough did not have reflux as the cause. Therefore, taking medicine without making a diagnosis is inaccurate and often can lead to inappropriate use of acid medicine. Surgery is appropriate for reflux when it is severe or not helped by medicine, and several surgical options are available when this is the case.
What is Zenker's Diverticulum?
Zenker’s diverticulum is a small outpouching of the lining of the esophagus between the muscle fibers. It causes food to get stuck, can cause regurgitation of old food or recently swallowed food, causes bad breath (halitosis), can cause a gurgling sound when swallowing, or a cough when lying down. There are minimally invasive endoscopic surgical techniques (endoscopic stapling and laser cricopharyngeal myotomy) that are performed by Dr. Anderson to treat Zenker’s diverticulum. These procedures are outpatient, are very safe, cause minimal discomfort, and do not require an external incision. Not all Zenkers are amenable to the endoscopic approach; a barium swallow test is necessary to determine if this procedure is right for you. Reflux disease is a common cause for diverticulae; trauma can also cause these. In general they are a nuisance, can cause aspiration pneumonia, and are usually simple to treat endoscopically.