Benign Esophageal Disease

At Stanford, we provide a wide range of minimally invasive surgical treatments for gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD), achalasia, paraesophageal hernia, and Barrett’s esophagus. Minimally invasive treatments are beneficial because, in some cases, they may eliminate the need for more complex surgeries, and in most cases, minimally invasive treatments reduce the patient's length of hospital stay and shorten recovery time. We have general thoracic surgeons that are specially trained in these methods to treat non-malignant esophageal diseases.

Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease (GERD)

Dr. Mark Berry has a special interest in minimal access surgery. He can perform laparoscopic Nissen fundoplication for gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD). At Stanford, patients with GERD will receive state-of-the-art evaluation for reflux.Our preoperative evaluation includes endoscopy, barium esophagram, and a 24-pH probe study. Laparoscopic Nissen fundoplication is performed through five small incisions and provides effective therapy for gastroesophageal reflux disease. Patients are usually discharged home within three days of the procedure. We count among our surgeons some of the most experienced in performing laparoscopic Nissen fundoplication in the San Francisco Bay Area and the country.


Achalasia is a motility disorder of the esophagus in which patients find it difficult to swallow solids and liquids. Dr. Mark Berry can offer minimally invasive surgery to treat this disorder. Patients should have an esophagram, manometry, and an endoscopy in order to make a diagnosis. Laparoscopic Heller myotomy is an effective surgical treatment for achalasia. The procedure involves incising the muscle layer of the lower esophagus to relieve the pressure at the lower esophageal sphincter (LES). A partial fundoplication is also performed. Patients are able to resume a diet the day after surgery and are usually discharged home within three days.

Paraesophageal Hernias

Patients with paraesophageal hernias usually complain of abdominal pain and GERD. In this condition, part of the stomach is found in the chest. In the past, the surgical correction involved extensive open surgery. At Stanford, laparoscopic paraesophageal hernia repair is offered to patients with this condition. During this procedure, the stomach is placed in the abdomen and a Nissen fundoplication is performed. The entire operation is performed through five small abdominal incisions.  Patients are able to resume a diet on the first day after surgery, and they are able to be discharged home within three days. We count among our surgeons some of the most experienced in performing minimally invasive esophageal hernia repair in the San Francisco Bay Area and the country.

Barrett's Esophagus

Barrett's esophagus is a precursor to esophageal cancer and occurs in patients with GERD. At Stanford, we are able to perform endoscopic and endoluminal therapy to treat Barrett's esophagus. This minimally invasive procedure may obviate the need for surgery, and patients are discharged home the same day of the procedure.

Normal Stomach

Laparoscopic Abdominal Inciscions

Nissen Fundoplication

Heller Myotomy for Achalasia

Paraesophageal Hernia

The Division of Thoracic Surgery in the Department of Cardiothoracic Surgery at the Stanford School of Medicine is located in the San Francisco Bay Area in northern California. For more information about our services, please contact Donna Yoshida at (650) 721-2086 or Angela Lee, RN, MS, at (650) 721-5402. For new patient Thoracic Surgery Clinic Scheduling, please call (650) 498-6000.