Motility and Esophageal Disorders

Clinical Services: Gastroenterology and Hepatology
Upper East Side
1283 York Avenue, 9th Floor
New York, NY 10065
(646) 962-4463
Lower Manhattan
156 William Street, 6th Floor
New York, NY 10038
(646) 962-0156
(646) 962-2705
Upper East Side
1305 York Ave., 4th Floor
New York, NY 10021
(646) 962-0110
(646) 962-4000

Expert Motility and Esophageal Disorders Care at Weill Cornell Medicine

Motility disorders are conditions in which the muscles and nerves in the gastrointestinal tract do not contract and tighten properly during the digestive process.

For example, dysphagia is one type of motility disorder of the esophagus (the muscular tube that connects the mouth to the stomach). Dysphagia makes swallowing difficult, preventing food and liquid from being delivered to the stomach.

The gastroenterologists at Weill Cornell Medicine are highly trained in diagnosing and treating motility disorders, including:

● Dysphagia (swallowing disorders)
● Achalasia
● Esophageal spasm disorders
● Chronic intractable constipation
● Gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD)
● Chronic intestinal pseudo-obstruction
● Gastroparesis
● Hirshprung’s disease
● Motility disorders caused by other conditions

Motility and Esophageal Disorders Prevention and Screening

Motility and esophageal disorders risk factors: You are more likely to develop a motility disorder if you:

● Have a genetic disorder
● Suffer from an inflammatory or autoimmune disease
● Have developmental delays, autism, or an attention disorder
● Have had a serious infection

Prevention strategies: The cause of motility disorders is unknown. One prevention strategy is to try to avoid a serious infection.

At Weill Cornell Medicine, our physician-scientists are conducting research to better understand motility disorders — as well as determine the causes and innovative therapies. Our patients have direct access to cutting-edge clinical findings.

Motility and esophageal disorders screening: There is no way to screen for motility disorders, so our physicians recommend visiting a board-certified gastroenterologist as soon as you experience symptoms.

Motility and Esophageal Disorders Symptoms

Symptoms vary depending on the type of motility disorder and which organs are affected. The most common symptoms include:

● Difficulty swallowing
● Regurgitation
● Constipation
● Fecal incontinence
● Chest or stomach pain
● Heartburn
● Nausea or vomiting
● Sensation of food being stuck in throat or neck
● Anxiety
● Difficulty sleeping

How We Diagnose Motility and Esophageal Disorders

Diagnostic tests and imaging: To diagnose a motility disorder, your physician will ask questions about the symptoms and conduct a physical exam. In addition, several tests and imaging studies will help confirm the diagnosis:

● Barium swallow studies to evaluate the esophageal function and reflux
● Endoscopy or ultrasound to look directly at the affected organs
● pH study
● Manometric studies to measure the pressure in different parts of the gastrointestinal tract

Types: Once a motility disorder has been diagnosed, your physician will then determine its severity and exact type. (For example, there are three types of achalasia.) This will help determine the best treatment options to improve the quality of life.   

Treatment Options for Esophageal Disorders at Weill Cornell Medicine

Treatments: Our gastroenterologists develop a personalized treatment plan based on each patient’s specific condition and lifestyle goals. Treatment plans may include:

● Lifestyle changes, such as changes in diet and activity level
● Botulinum toxin (Botox) to reduce muscle spasms
● Surgical therapies, including:
       ○ Balloon dilation
       ○ Cecostomy to empty stool

Medication therapy: Our gastroenterologists may prescribe medications to prevent muscle spasms and alleviate symptoms. For example, laxatives may be prescribed to prevent constipation.

Comprehensive Care Founded on Cutting-Edge Research 

The gastroenterologists at Weill Cornell Medicine unite their specialized expertise with the breadth of knowledge and support at our top-ranked hospital.

Weill Cornell Medicine patients have access to specialists in surgery, rheumatology, psychiatry, hepatology, oncology, nutrition, genetics and other fields. In addition, our patients benefit from collaborative care with:

●   The Jay Monahan Center for Gastrointestinal Health

●   The Jill Roberts Center for Motility and Esophageal Disorders

Meet Our Doctors

Our board-certified gastroenterologists provide compassionate care based on the latest motility research and clinical findings. Patients benefit from our gastroenterologists’ extensive training, targeted care, and collaboration with other specialists at our top-ranked hospital.