Heartburn Specialist > EsoGuard™


GERD is a common condition amongst the patients at TLC Houston Heartburn Center. Not only is GERD uncomfortable, but it can make it difficult for patients to enjoy certain foods. Additionally, GERD may be a sign of more serious conditions like Barrett’s Esophagus, which is often a precursor to esophageal cancer. Fortunately, with EsoGuard™, our heartburn experts can diagnose esophageal precancer so that our patients can pursue prompt treatment.

Understanding GERD

GERD, or gastroesophageal reflux disease, is a common condition caused by stomach acid that flows from the stomach back into the esophagus. Also known as acid reflux, GERD can cause irritation to the esophageal lining.

A diagnosis of GERD is pronounced when patients who suffer from mild acid reflux at least twice weekly or moderate acid reflux at least once weekly. Roughly 46% of Americans are diagnosed with GERD, experiencing symptoms such as:

  • Heartburn, especially after eating at night
  • Difficulty swallowing
  • Chest pain
  • Regurgitation
  • The sensation of a lump in the throat
  • Chronic cough
  • Asthma
  • Laryngitis
  • Sleep disturbances2

Barrett’s Esophagus and Esophageal Cancer

For the vast majority of patients, GERD can be simply managed with lifestyle changes and over-the-counter medications. In some patients, however, GERD can cause esophageal ulcers, narrowing of the esophagus, and precancerous changes known as Barrett’s Esophagus.

Barrett’s esophagus is often present without symptoms, and it is associated with an increased risk of esophageal cancer. Esophageal cancer, or esophageal adenocarcinoma (EAC) only makes up about 1% of cancer cases in the United States, but this rare cancer has a five-year survival rate of only about 20%. Over the past 40 years, esophageal cancer diagnoses have increased more than 733%, so it is vital that GERD patients are monitored for the presence of precancerous cells and Barrett’s Esophagus.2

Barrett’s Esophagus is a known precursor to esophageal cancer, but fewer than 10% of esophageal cancer patients previously pursued a diagnosis with Barrett’s Esophagus. Thanks to EsoGuard, we are able to diagnose Barrett’s Esophagus and the presence of precancerous cells, making it possible to closely monitor patients and render early, potentially life-saving treatment.3

What is EsoGuard?

EsoGuard tests the DNA in samples of esophageal cells to detect Barrett’s Esophagus and precancerous cells. This test requires no needles and no blood is drawn. The EsoGuard sample procedure is a simple, five-minute procedure we perform here at our office. The sample is sent to be analyzed at a laboratory, and results are usually ready within a few weeks.4

The EsoGuard Sample Procedure

EsoGuard testing is performed on cells from the lower esophagus. These cells are gathered in a procedure that takes only about five minutes.

Before EsoGuard sampling, patients are asked not to eat any solid food for at least two hours. Patients swallow a small EsoCheck capsule (the size of a gelcap) which is attached to a catheter placed at the back of the throat. When the patient swallows, the capsule moves to the stomach. Once the provider confirms placement of the capsule, the capsule is inflated then gently pulled back with the catheter to harvest sample cells. The capsule is then deflated and pulled back through the esophagus and out of the mouth. The balloon or capsule is then cut off and placed in a preservative solution before being sent to a laboratory for analysis.5

Frequently Asked Questions About EsoGuard

Is EsoGuard esophageal cancer screening painful?

No. Most of our patients say that swallowing the EsoCheck capsule is easy and that they would recommend this test to other patients.6

How much does EsoGuard cost?

For most patients with medical insurance, EsoGuard testing is covered and there are no out-of-pocket costs.

Contact TLC Houston Heartburn Center

If you suffer from GERD or chronic heartburn, it is highly recommended that you undergo precancer esophageal screening. To schedule your appointment for EsoGuard testing, please contact us in Houston.


1 Mayo Clinic. GERD. Available: https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/gerd/symptoms-causes/syc-20361940#:~:text=Gastroesophageal%20reflux%20disease%20(GERD)%20occurs,reflux%20from%20time%20to%20time. Accessed June 16, 2022.

2 ​​National Cancer Institute. Esophageal Cancer. Available: https://www.cancer.gov/pediatric-adult-rare-tumor/rare-tumors/rare-digestive-system-tumors/esophageal#:~:text=Esophageal%20cancer%20is%20a%20rare,esophageal%20cancer%20is%20more%20common. Accessed June 16, 2022.

3 Cleveland Clinic. Barrett’s Esophagus. Available: https://my.clevelandclinic.org/health/diseases/14432-barretts-esophagus. Accessed June 16, 2022.

4 Lucid Diagnostics. EsoGuard Patient Information. Available: https://www.esoguard.com/patients. Accessed June 16, 2022.

5 EsoCheck Patient Brochure. Available: https://www.tlchoustonheartburncenter.com/wp-content/uploads/2022/06/2022-EsoCheck-Patient-Brochure.pdf. Accessed May 19, 2022.

6 Moinova HR, LaFramboise T, Lutterbaugh JD, Chandar AK, Dumot J, Faulx A, Brock W, De la Cruz Cabrera O, Guda K, Barnholtz-Sloan JS, Iyer PG, Canto MI, Wang JS, Shaheen NJ, Thota PN, Willis JE, Chak A, Markowitz SD. Identifying DNA methylation biomarkers for non-endoscopic detection of Barrett’s esophagus. Sci Transl Med. 2018 Jan 17;10(424):eaao5848. doi: 10.1126/scitranslmed.aao5848. PMID: 29343623; PMCID: PMC5789768. Available: https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/29343623/. Accessed June 16, 2022.