a medical diagnosis that is literally difficult to swallow

When children have problems with their esophagus or with moving food through their gastrointestinal tract, getting an accurate diagnosis can be a challenge. At MercyOne, we recently received EndoFLIP, a state-of-the-art minimally invasive diagnostic tool. This imaging technology allows us to examine the esophagus without requiring x-rays or radiation. MercyOne Children’s Hospital is the only hospital in the state of Iowa to use EndoFLIP technology.


Gastroesophageal reflux disease (GE) in children can present in several ways. Some symptoms to watch out for include:

  • Vomiting
  • Stomach pains
  • Refusal of food
  • Difficulty swallowing
  • Drool
  • Chronic cough especially when lying down
  • Effortless regurgitation
  • Unexplained irritability (especially in infants)

Why use EndoFLIP?

Compared to traditional diagnostic tests like an upper endoscopy (EGD), EndoFLIP allows the pressure and dimensions of the esophagus to be tested simultaneously using a medical balloon mounted on a thin catheter. This can provide information about swallowing. The technology uses an imaging technique called impedance planimetry to estimate the cross section of the esophagus. EndoFLIP makes it easier to diagnose and accurately characterize conditions such as esophageal stenosis (constriction) and achalasia (food accumulates in the esophagus).

How it works

When patients have difficulty swallowing, complications arise when food and fluids pass from your mouth to your stomach. The medical term for this is dysphagia. For children who have this condition, often an upper endoscopy alone is not sufficient for a diagnosis. EndoFLIP measures the pressure and dimensions of the esophagus, which gives the doctor additional data to better diagnose esophageal disorders. In addition, EndoFLIP can be performed with an upper endoscopy, so it does not require an additional appointment or sedation.

If your child is having difficulty swallowing, we can help!

Need to see a pediatric gastroenterologist? Call 515-643-5454 and speak to your MercyOne primary care provider for a referral.