Esophageal Disorders

Esophageal Disorders Program

Through specialized patient care, medical education and scientific research, the Esophageal Disorders Program at Keck Medicine of USC is dedicated to the treatment and study of esophageal cancers, GERD, Barrett’s esophagus and other diseases of the thoracic foregut.

Internationally recognized for the treatment of complex esophageal disorders, our program serves patients from around the globe. As part of an academic medical center, we treat some of the most difficult cases in the Los Angeles area.

The Esophageal Disorders Program takes a carefully balanced approach to patient care, integrating clinical research and innovative programs that emphasize maintaining your quality of life. We provide our patients and their loved ones with access to a comprehensive support staff, including social services, care management, pain management, patient education and an experienced nursing team.

Our physicians are on faculty at the renowned Keck School of Medicine of USC, which means our patients often have access to groundbreaking clinical trials and treatments not available at other hospitals.

Our treatments and programs include:

  • Swallowing Center
  • Hepatitis Treatment Center
  • Colonic Disorders
  • Inflammatory Bowel Disease
  • GI/Liver Diseases in HIV Infection
  • Pancreatic and Biliary Diseases
  • Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease (GERD)
  • Obscure Gastrointestinal Bleeding
  • Liver Center/Transplantation Program

Other Diseases of the Esophagus

As an internationally recognized center for the treatment of complex esophageal diseases, we treat many conditions of or relating to the thoracic foregut in addition to esophageal cancers, GERD and Barrett’s esophagus.

Other diseases of the esophagus treated at Keck Medicine of USC include:

  • Achalasia – a rare disorder of the esophagus in which the lower esophageal sphincter does not relax enough for the passage to open properly.

POEM Procedure – Keck Medicine of USC has the only medical center in Southern California performing the POEM procedure for patients with achalasia. Candidates for the POEM procedure have achalasia or a similar motility abnormality without a large hiatal hernia or significant distortion of the esophagus. Patients with difficulty swallowing will initially be carefully evaluated to determine the cause of the problem. Testing with high-resolution manometry, a state-of-the-art system that determines if achalasia is present, is a key component of the evaluation. Patients with achalasia have several different treatments options, including POEM.

POEM benefits for patients include:

  • No visible scars
  • Next day discharge
  • Immediate improvement in swallowing
  • Minimal or no pain
  • Minimal complications or need for repeat procedures
  • Chronic Aspiration – aspiration occurs when food and/or liquids “go down the wrong pipe,” entering the airway. When this happens often over a long period of time, this is referred to as chronic aspiration.
  • Cricopharyngeal Dysphagia – the cricopharyngeus is a horizontal muscle that separates the bottom of the throat from the top of the esophagus. When it malfunctions, it can cause difficulty swallowing.

Diagnosing Other Diseases of the Esophagus

As with other esophageal disorders, Keck Medicine of USC physicians employ a variety of tests to determine the best course of treatment for a particular malady. These tests may include:

  • Esophageal pH monitoring – a test that measures how often and for how long stomach acid enters the esophagus from the stomach. A sensor at the end of a thin catheter is threaded through the patient’s nose and positioned in his or her esophagus, just above the lower esophageal sphincter. Once in place, the sensor detects stomach acid over a 24-hour period.
  • Bravo Capsule pH Monitoring – a new, catheter-free pH test in which a capsule collects pH data and transmits it via radio waves to a small external receiver worn by the patient.
  • Pharyngeal monitoring
  • Upper Endoscopy – this procedure allows a physician to look inside the esophagus, stomach, and duodenum (part of the small intestine). During an upper endoscopy, the patient swallows a thin lighted tube called an endoscope, which transmits an image to a television monitor, so the physician can examine the lining of these organs.

Link to more information:

Contact Information

Office Hours: Mon-Fri 8am/5pm
Phone Number:(800) USC-CARE (800-872-2273)
Fax Number:(323) 442-6279


1510 San Pablo Street, Suite 514 (Healthcare Consultation Center I)
Los Angeles, CA 90033

Last modified: March 10, 2016