Skip to main content Skip to navigation
We care about your privacy. Read about your rights and how we protect your data. Get Details

Pediatric Esophageal Surgery

If your infant or child has frequent vomiting, a persistent cough, or difficulty eating, he or she may be suffering from acid reflux or gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD). In these conditions, stomach acid flows backward from the stomach into the esophagus. This causes pain and damages the esophageal lining.

The general and thoracic surgical experts at Children’s National Hospital have vast experience performing esophageal surgery for children.

Esophageal Surgery at Children’s National

Our surgeons are pediatric specialists, dedicated to treating esophageal conditions and other digestive disorders in children. We understand children’s unique anatomy and needs, and we tailor our approach to offer each child the best outcome.

When you come to Children’s National for esophageal surgery, your child receives care that is:

  • Expert. We have some of the nation’s leading experts in procedures for reflux and GERD. Families from across the country come to our facility to receive the specialized, expert surgical care we provide.
  • Advanced. We perform even the most complex procedures, such as esophageal replacement. For children who can’t use their esophagus due to illness or injury, we have the resources and skills to replace the esophagus, improving your child’s health and quality of life.
  • Comprehensive. No matter your child’s age—from babies to young adults—or the type of procedure he or she needs, our surgical team has a high level of expertise. We work closely with other pediatric specialists so your child receives the full spectrum of care.
  • Minimally invasive. We always strive to perform our procedures using the least invasive approach possible. We use an endoscopic approach in most cases. This leads to less pain and a shorter recovery for your child. Learn more about minimally invasive surgery and surgical endoscopy at Children’s National.

Esophageal Surgery: Procedures We Perform

Some of the esophageal procedures we perform include:

  • Peroral endoscopic myotomy (POEM). This is the newest technique of surgery that treats esophageal achalasia in children. During the surgery only a single incision is done in the esophagus, and no incision in the abdomen. Children who have the POEM procedure reported less pain following Heller myotomy, faster recovery time and a shorter hospital stay. In addition, POEM can be performed at any point in treatment, even if other therapies or surgical interventions (including a Heller myotomy) have been previously performed. It can also be repeated if needed.
  • Fundoplication surgery for GERD. During this procedure, our surgical team wraps the upper part of the stomach (the fundus) around the esophagus. The lower part of the esophagus passes through a small portion of the stomach (fundus). The goal of the procedure is to strengthen the valve between the esophagus and stomach, preventing acid from backing up into the esophagus.
  • Esophageal replacement. We have years of experience performing this rare, complex procedure. We may recommend this procedure for a child who ingested a substance that damaged the esophagus, or for a child who has esophageal atresia, in which the esophagus does not function properly. During this surgery, we use part of the stomach to replace the esophagus.
  • Heller myotomy for esophageal achalasia. This procedure can provide long-term relief to patients with achalasia, a condition that affects your ability to swallow. This surgical procedure involves cutting the muscles of the lower esophageal sphincter to aid swallowing by preventing gastroesophageal reflux.
  • Surgical removal of esophageal duplication cysts. We can remove these cysts, commonly found in children, using a minimally invasive procedure, often with thoracoscopy, a type of surgical endoscopy.
  • Surgery for hiatal hernias (acquired or congenital). Hiatal hernias do not often cause symptoms. If your child’s hernia causes severe symptoms, such as reflux and pain that do not respond to medication, we may recommend surgery to correct it.
  • Redo Laparoscopic antireflux surgery. This minimally invasive procedure can be an effective treatment for GERD. We perform this surgery using thoracoscopy, a type of surgical endoscopy.

Contact Us

For more information, call us at 202-476-2151.

Children's Team

Children's Team


George Zalzal

George Zalzal

Emeritus Chief, Ear, Nose, and Throat (Otolaryngology)
Children's National Hospital

Mikael Petrosyan

Associate Chief, General and Thoracic Surgery
Director of Pediatric Surgery Fellowship
Our Stories

Our Stories

Katheryn teaser image

Katheryn's Story

Around Thanksgiving during her sophomore year of high school, Katheryn felt like throwing up after dinner. She began to throw up regularly, but frustratingly didn't know why. After seeing multiple doctors, Katheryn was finally diagnosed correctly. 



General and Thoracic Surgery

The pediatric surgical experts at Children’s National in Washington, D.C., provide advanced, comprehensive surgical care for infants, children and teenagers.

Invest in future cures for some of life's most devastating diseases

See other ways to give

Share your birthday with a child. Celebrate your life, and give a chance to someone who desperately wants to have as many as you.

Share your birthday with a child. Celebrate your life, and give a chance to someone who desperately wants to have as many as you. Make it happen