Digestive Health Swallowing Program | Loyola Medicine

Digestive Health Swallowing Program

Why Choose Loyola for Swallowing Disorders?

The Swallowing Program at Loyola Medicine offers state-of-the-art care for swallowing disorders. Often, diagnosis and treatment require collaboration between gastroenterologists, surgeons, otolaryngologists, interventional endoscopists, speech pathologists, rheumatologists, and pulmonologists. Loyola's multidisciplinary Swallowing Program provides a unique type of collaboration and is one of only a few programs in the United States that is solely devoted to diagnosing and treating swallowing disorders. This dedication has contributed to U.S. News & World Report ranking the gastrointestinal & GI surgery services at Loyola University Medical Center among the top 35 in the country.

What Conditions are Treated by Swallowing Specialists?

Patients suffering from swallowing disorders may complain of trouble swallowing, regurgitation, chronic cough, or acid reflux. Swallowing disorders cause a great deal of discomfort and can affect one’s enjoyment of eating and drinking. Loyola’s expert clinicians are medically and surgically trained to treat a range of swallowing disorders, including: 

  • Gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD)
  • Gastroparesis
  • Hiatal hernia
  • Laryngopharyngeal reflux disease (LPRD)
  • Non-erosive reflux disease (NERD)
  • Peptic strictures
  • Pharyngeal diverticula
  • Pyloric stenosis
  • Recurrent coughing
  • Regurgitation​

As people age, swallowing disorders become more prevalent. Difficulty swallowing can also be caused by certain medications and some medical conditions, including: 

Diagnostic Services Offered for Swallowing Disorders

The Swallowing Program at Loyola Medicine has a comprehensive set of state-of-the-art technologies to evaluate and diagnose patients with suspected swallowing disorders. These technologies include:

  • 24-hour pH impedance reflux testing
  • 48- and 96-hour wireless pH capsule (Bravo) reflux testing
  • Antroduodenal manometry
  • Barium esophagram
  • Esophagogastroduodenoscopy (EGD or upper endoscopy)
  • High resolution esophageal manometry
  • Laryngoscopy
  • Transnasal endoscopy
  • Transnasal video stroboscopy
  • Video fluoroscopic swallow study
  • Wireless motility capsule (Smartpill)

Swallowing Disorders Treatments at Loyola

Loyola’s medical experts use a full range of leading-edge therapies to treat swallowing disorders. Early treatment of swallowing problems is very important; if left untreated, they may lead to poor nutrition, weight loss, chest pain, asthma, aspiration of food or fluids into the lungs, and even esophageal cancer. Your Loyola doctor will first explore non-surgical treatments to alleviate your symptoms, including medications and swallowing therapy. If surgery is required, surgeons at Loyola’s Swallowing Program will utilize less-invasive treatments whenever possible. This offers patients a shorter hospital stay and less scarring over conventional large-incision techniques. This specialized approach allows a personalized treatment for each patient.

Some of the treatments offered at Loyola’s Swallowing Program include:

  • Anti-reflux surgery
  • Brachytherapy
  • Endoscopic cryotherapy
  • Endoscopic mucosal resection (EMR)
  • Endoscopic radiofrequency ablation
  • Endoscopic stent placement
  • Endoscopic submucosal dissection (ESD)
  • Endoscopic suturing
  • Esophagectomy
  • Feeding tube placement

Specialized Services Performed at Loyola

Our team of experts at Loyola Medicine offer several services that are not available at the majority of medical centers in the region. Our team has received specialized training to provide the most advanced diagnostic and treatment options for complex cases. Some examples of the specialized services performed by our team include:

  • Comprehensive diagnostic testing services - The Swallowing Program at Loyola Medicine has a comprehensive set of state-of-the-art technologies to evaluate and diagnose patients with suspected swallowing disorders. 
     
  • Endoscopic mucosal resection (EMR) - EMR is the removal of the top layer of gastrointestinal tract and is often used in precancerous conditions such as Barrett’s esophagus. EMR may also be used for the diagnosis, staging, and treatment of early-stage cancers and lesions of the esophagus. 
     
  • Endoscopic ablation therapy - Ablation therapy removes or destroys diseased cells in the lining of the gastrointestinal tract. This is commonly used to remove precancerous cells in patients with Barrett’s esophagus. Your doctor may remove the diseased cells with an endoscope and radiofrequency ablation and/or cryotherapy.   
     
  • Endoscopic submucosal dissection (ESD) - ESD is the removal of the top layer of gastrointestinal tract.  For patients with gastrointestinal lesions that have not yet entered the muscle layer, ESD may be an effective form of treatment of polyps and early-stage cancers that may could not have been removed using standard endoscopic techniques including EMR.   
     
  • Endoscopic suturing - This minimally invasive approach can replace complex, open surgeries for the closure of gastrointestinal fistulas and gastrointestinal leaks. This can also be used as a follow-up treatment for patients who have experienced complications from prior surgery. 
     
  • Laparoscopic surgery - Commonly used to treat problems in the abdomen and chest, a laparoscopic procedure involves small incisions to insert a laparoscope (a specialized camera) and small surgical instruments.
     
  • Robotic surgery - Minimally invasive robotic technology is designed to provide surgeons with enhanced capabilities, including breakthrough visualization, precision and control. The robotic system works by translating your surgeon's hand movements on the robotic controls into more precise movements of the miniaturized instruments that are inserted into the body.

Ongoing Research to Advance Swallowing Disorders Treatments

Experts at Loyola’s Swallowing Program are actively pursuing new research with a focus on patient-centered outcomes. As an academic medical center, Loyola is dedicated to improving future treatments by conducting research on new diagnostics and treatments. Loyola’s patients benefit from research discoveries made here; read about Loyola’s current clinical trials.