Mayra Sanchez, MD, is a gastroenterologist at Yale Medicine and Director of the Gastrointestinal Motility Program at Yale Medicine. She specializes in conditions such as GERD, dysphagia, gastroparesis, IBS, fecal incontinence, and constipation.
Dr. Sanchez earned her MD degree from University of Miami and completed her internal medicine residency at Jackson Memorial Hospital/University of Miami, followed by a digestive diseases fellowship at Yale University School of Medicine. Afterwards, she joined the Digestive Diseases Section of Yale Medicine as a full-time faculty member. She has led the Gastrointestinal Motility Program since 2011. Under her direction, it has become one of the busiest motility programs in the entire northeast. She regularly receives referrals not only from across Connecticut but from throughout the region as well.
Dr. Sanchez understands that motility disorders are complex and difficult to treat. Many of her patients come to her with symptoms that can appear to be non-specific such as abdominal pain, nausea, vomiting, constipation or diarrhea, and they are frustrated with years of wrong diagnoses or ineffective treatments or being told that their disorder is “all in their head”. As a result, she spends as much time as is needed with each of her patients to understand all the nuances of their condition, including when their symptoms started, what their lifestyles are like and how their specific symptoms manifest. “You can make so much of the diagnosis just by listening,” Dr. Sanchez says.
In addition, Dr. Sanchez puts patients at ease by explaining procedures like endoscopies and manometries to them in great detail. “It can be intimidating to patients when they hear that they have to put a catheter through their nose,” she says. “But I go through the procedure and tell them that I would be willing to do it myself just to show them. It makes them feel better.”
Because of the complexities of many of her patients, Dr. Sanchez has established regular multidisciplinary conferences to discuss the most difficult cases with others in related disciplines. For example, patients with swallowing disorders and other difficult upper GI problems are discussed with GI and thoracic surgeons, while patients with pelvic floor problems are discussed with urologists, urogynecologists, and colorectal surgeons.
Dr. Sanchez says that gastroenterology is very rewarding because of how big a difference she can make in patients’ lives. “If your gastrointestinal tract is not working the way it’s supposed to, it can take a huge toll on you,” she says.
In addition to seeing patients, Dr. Sanchez conducts research on topics related to her clinical interests, including the relationship between reflux, esophageal motility and pulmonary disorders, the effects of pain medications on gastrointestinal motility, among others.