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The Nissen Center

Treating Heartburn & Esophageal Disease

Rudolph Nissen was chief of surgery at Maimonides Medical Center from 1945 to 1952.  Dr. Nissen performed the first esophagectomy with cervical anastomosis and the first transabdominal repair of a paraesophageal hernia while here at Maimonides.  Dr. Nissen also operatively repaired Albert Einstein’s aortic aneurysm and is the pioneer of the Nissen Fundoplication, which is now performed laparoscopically at our institution.

The Nissen Center for the Treatment of Heartburn & Esophageal Disease is Brooklyn’s most advanced center for treating patients with esophageal disease, heartburn and swallowing disorders, utilizing minimally invasive surgical techniques.

We bring together a team of gastroenterologists, endoscopists, radiologists and surgeons with extensive experience and national reputations. The Nissen Center, named in honor of the Maimonides surgeon who pioneered the technique that cures gastroesophageal reflux disease, is dedicated to providing the highest quality medical care.

Services We Provide:

  • Video endoscopy
  • Dilatation
  • Stent placement 
  • Laser therapy
  • Endoscopic ultrasound
  • Esophagectomy
  • Heller Mylomy
  • 24-hour pH monitoring
  • Manometry
  • Laparoscopic esophageal surgery (including the Nissen Procedure)

Do you suffer from chronic heartburn?

If the answer is yes, you may have a condition known as gastroesophageal reflux disease, or GERD. GERD occurs when contents of the stomach flow backward and up into the esophagus because of a weakened esophageal muscle, the valve-like muscle between the stomach and esophagus.

What are the symptoms of GERD?

Symptoms can include a burning sensation in the chest or abdomen, indigestion, regurgitation, difficulty sleeping after eating, hoarseness and sore throat. Repeated incidences of acid reflux cause constant irritation and can lead to scarring and difficulty swallowing.

Medical studies have shown that longstanding heartburn can lead to cancer of the esophagus, one of the few cancers that are on the rise in the United States today.

How can you determine the severity of heartburn?

Basic changes in lifestyle and diet can be effective in stopping heartburn. Medication also can be highly effective in relieving most symptoms.

A simple, painless procedure called endoscopy determines the severity of heartburn. After the patient is given a light sedative, a narrow, fiber optic tube is inserted in the mouth, down the esophagus and into the stomach. Through this tube, the physician can observe the stomach lining and complications of heartburn, such as the pre-cancerous condition called Barrett’s esophagus. Other problems can also be diagnosed through endoscopy, including a weakened esophageal muscle and a hiatal hernia, in which portions of the patient’s stomach pushes through an opening in the diaphragm. The results of the endoscopy test can be used to successfully treat a majority of patients.

What is the Nissen Procedure?

The Nissen Procedure, developed 20 years ago by Rudolf Nissen, MD, former chief of surgery at Maimonides Medical Center, has successfully controlled heartburn in more than 10,000 patients worldwide.

Until recently, the procedure was performed as traditional surgery, or what is referred to as “open” surgery. Today this procedure can be performed laparoscopically in less than two hours. Instead of making a long incision, the surgeon makes a few dime-sized incisions and, with the help of special instrumentation and a fiber-optic camera to view the internal anatomy, wraps the esophageal valve with a portion of the patient’s stomach. Our patients recover more quickly and have reduced scarring. Success rates are high, with more than 90% of patients remaining free from chronic heartburn after laparoscopic surgery.