Overview of the Swallowing and Reflux Center

The esophagus is the muscular tube that carries food from a person’s mouth to their stomach. The foregut refers to the section of the digestive system, which extends from the mouth to the beginning of the small intestine. The Swallowing and Reflux Center at Cleveland Clinic Abu Dhabi’s Digestive Disease Institute specializes in diseases that affect the esophagus. A multidisciplinary team of experts provide patients with comprehensive diagnostic evaluations and treatments for a variety of esophageal problems. 

What We Treat 

The Swallowing and Reflux Center at Cleveland Clinic Abu Dhabi treats patients with a wide variety of disorders of the esophagus, including:

  • Esophageal achalasia: Damage to muscles of the esophagus that makes it difficult for food to pass into the stomach. 
  • Barrett's esophagus: Esophageal tissue becomes similar to the tissue found in the intestine. 
  • Distal esophageal spasm: Also called diffuse esophageal spasm. Contractions of the esophagus occasionally lose coordination, making it difficult to move food down into the stomach
  • Eosinophilic esophagitis: White blood cell build-up in the esophagus.
  • Esophageal motility disorders: Problems with movement of food through the esophagus. 
  • Esophageal strictures: Narrowing in the esophagus. 
  • Esophagitis: Inflammation of the esophagus. 
  • Hiatal hernia: When part of the stomach pushes up through the diaphragm. 
  • Non-cardiac chest pain: Chest pain that is not caused by heart disease. 
  • Post-surgical esophageal complications
  • Swallowing problems after previous bariatric surgery
  • Other swallowing-related problems

GERD (gastroesophageal reflux disease)

GERD, also called acid reflux or frequent heartburn, is the most common esophageal disorder in which acid-containing contents from the stomach keep leaking back up into the esophagus. This happens because the valve at the end of the esophagus, called the lower esophageal sphincter, doesn’t close properly when food arrives in the stomach. Acid backwash then flows back up through the esophagus, into the throat and mouth, resulting in a sour taste.

The main symptoms of GERD are persistent heartburn and acid regurgitation. Some people have GERD without heartburn. Instead, they experience pain in the chest, hoarseness in the morning or trouble swallowing. You may feel like you have food stuck in your throat, or like you are choking or your throat is tight. GERD can also cause a dry cough and bad breath.

Diagnosis & Treatment

The Swallowing and Reflux Center at Cleveland Clinic Abu Dhabi is committed to providing the highest quality of care that puts Patients First. Our team of specialists is highly trained in a variety of procedures for the diagnosis and therapeutic treatment of disorders of the foregut and esophagus, all in the same facility.

Diagnosis of Swallowing and Reflux 

The most common symptoms for esophageal conditions include dysphagia (pain or difficulty when swallowing), heartburn, and chest pain. 

After an initial consultation with a medical specialist, patients will likely undergo a number of diagnostic tests, which may include:

  • Esophageal manometry test: A test that evaluates how well the esophagus and the lower esophageal sphincter are pushing food through to the stomach.  
  • pH monitoring: A test that measures the frequency and severity of acid reflux episodes over a period of 24 hours. 
  • Barium esophagram: An x-ray imaging test to study the esophagus. Also known as a modified barium swallow test. 
  • Video capsule endoscopy: A procedure that uses a tiny wireless camera to take pictures of the digestive tract. 
  • Endoscopic ultrasound: An imaging test that involves inserting a flexible tube through the mouth, that provides ultrasound images of the digestive tract.  
  • Breath testing: A non-invasive test that involves blowing into a handheld device that measures the amount of certain gases in the breath. High levels of certain types of gases may indicate certain conditions such as esophageal cancers. 

Treatment of Swallowing and Reflux

Treatments are available for a variety of patient conditions. Treatment options include surgery, minimally invasive surgery, balloon dilation, medications, and recommendations for lifestyle changes.

Swallowing and Reflux Center Caregivers

Cleveland Clinic Abu Dhabi’s Swallowing and Reflux Center is run by a multidisciplinary team that includes physicians, nurses, and medical assistants with special expertise in esophageal disorders. The team of caregivers includes:

  • Gastroenterologists
  • Advanced endoscopists
  • Thoracic surgeons specializing in minimally invasive procedures 
  • General surgeons specializing in minimally invasive procedures
  • Otolaryngologists (Ear Nose Throat)
  • Speech pathologists
  • Allergy/immunology specialists
  • Pulmonologists 
  • Radiologists
  • Pathologists
  • Medical assistants 
  • Registered nurses


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