Our Tampa Bay Reflux Center staff is led by two of the most experienced foregut/esophageal surgeons in the southeastern United States – Dr. Grandhige and Dr. Tapper. Although they’re widely renowned for their treatment of GERD (gastroesophageal reflux disease), that’s not the only condition we treat here at TBRC. Our surgeons specialize in treating four common digestive conditions: Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease, Laryngopharyngeal Reflux Disease, Achalasia, and Hiatal Hernias.
Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease, more commonly referred to as GERD, is a chronic digestive disorder affecting the lower esophageal sphincter (that ring of muscle between your esophagus and your stomach). In patients with GERD, the lower esophageal sphincter is either weaker, shorter, or has moved into a location that is other than normal. This causes it to relax inappropriately, allowing the stomach’s contents to flow back up into the esophagus and causing gastroesophageal reflux.
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Laryngopharyngeal reflux (or LPR) is a condition in which stomach juice refluxes up through the esophagus into the back of the throat, causing irritation in the vocal cords and lungs. In other words, LPR is the term used to describe the irritation that results from frequent reflux. Laryngopharyngeal reflux is often referred to as silent reflux because in many patients it doesn't present with typical reflux symptoms.
Treatment options for LPR are similar to the ones used for GERD.
Achalasia is an esophageal disorder that prevents the esophagus from emptying properly. In patients with Achalasia, certain nerve fibers in the esophagus are destroyed. This results in two issues: the esophagus loses its ability to push, and the valve at the lower end of the esophagus (otherwise known as the lower esophageal sphincter) does not relax properly.
Achalasia is, in many ways, the opposite condition of GERD. While patients with GERD suffer from a weakened lower esophageal sphincter, patients with Achalasia have an overly tight lower esophageal sphincter. Like GERD, Achalasia can occur at any age, but is more prominent in middle-aged and elderly individuals. It affects men and women equally, and has not yet been linked to any specific causes.
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A hiatal hernia happens when part of the upper stomach squeezes through the hiatus, an opening in the diaphragm that the esophagus passes through. This is usually due to a combination of pressure and a weakness of muscle or fascia. There are two different types of hiatal hernias: sliding and paraesophageal. A sliding hernia occurs when the stomach and the part of the esophagus that joins the stomach slide up into the chest through the hiatus. In a paraesophageal hernia, the esophagus and stomach both stay in their normal place, but a small section of the stomach squeezes through the hiatus and ends up next to the esophagus. Paraesophageal hernias are the less common of the two, and in many cases are more dangerous.
Hiatal hernias are common in patients with GERD, with up to 90% of GERD patients having one, so they’re a condition we treat quite frequently at Tampa Bay Reflux Center.
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Whether you’re suffering from a hernia, Achalasia, or a reflux condition, the specialists at Tampa Bay Reflux Center are perfectly equipped with the expert knowledge, skills, and experience necessary to provide the most innovative and effective treatment options available to help you down the road to recovery. Don’t hesitate to call us if you have any questions, you can even schedule your appointment online!