On the Horizon: Two New Surgical Treatments for GERD

For the vast majority of Americans who suffer from gastroesophageal
reflux disease (GERD), medication alone is enough to treat their
symptoms. But up to 20% of people are not helped by GERD medications.

Some of these people -- or those who don't want to be on long-term
medication -- may turn to surgery, most commonly a procedure called a
Nissen fundoplication. However, this invasive procedure is not without
side effects, and it also fails to correct GERD in up to 20% of

As a result, researchers are investigating less invasive and more
successful ways to resolve the symptoms of GERD and correct its cause.

The main reason for GERD is weak muscular tension in the
gastroesophageal sphincter, which is the valve that separates the
stomach from the esophagus. This valve is supposed to stay closed unless
you're swallowing food or liquids. But if the muscle becomes weakened
and the valve opens from time to time, stomach contents can escape
upward into the esophagus, causing the familiar symptoms of GERD:
heartburn and indigestion. If left untreated, this reflux can eventually
damage the esophagus and lead to serious complications such as
esophageal ulcers and strictures, Barrett's esophagus (a disorder of the
cells lining the esophageal mucosa), and esophageal cancer.

Two new surgical procedures aim to strengthen the esophagus and
reconstruct an antireflux valve -- therefore ending both GERD and the
need for daily medication. They're both less invasive than either
traditional or laparoscopic Nissen fundoplication, and they do show

Transoral Incisionless Fundoplication (TIF) for GERD

This procedure, performed with a device known as the EsophyX, is just
what its name suggests: a surgical treatment that does not involve any
incisions. TIF is performed under general anesthesia. The surgeon
inserts the device through the throat and into the esophagus to the
gastroesophageal junction where the stomach and esophagus meet.

The EsophyX then forms and secures several tissue folds (or plications)
to create a valve at the gastroesophageal junction. Since it is
incisionless, TIF may have an advantage over traditional or laparoscopic
Nissen fundoplication, as recovery time and pain can be significantly
lessened. And since TIF is less invasive, it can be repeated or reversed
if necessary -- an important consideration given the relatively young
age of many GERD sufferers.

Magnetic Sphincter Augmentation for GERD
In this procedure, rather than using the body's own tissue to create a
stronger gastroesophageal sphincter, a ring of miniature metal beads is
inserted around the sphincter to add extra pressure. A surgeon needs to
make only a small laparoscopic incision. He or she then wraps a series
of magnetic beads, in the shape of a bracelet, around the bottom of the

The device, known as the LINX Reflux Management System, is sized to fit
each patient. Once it is in place, magnetic attraction keeps the beads
together and helps it to keep the gastroesophageal sphincter closed. The
valve can still open while swallowing food or belching.

Because the procedure is so minimally invasive, it is considered
outpatient surgery, and most people can return to a normal diet the
following day.

The Bottom Line: The EsophyX device has been approved by the U.S. Food
and Drug Administration and is being used at hospitals throughout the
country, but the LINX Reflux Management System is still in clinical

Posted in

Digestive Health on July 5, 2010
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Donna G.
1) Rejoice always, Pray continually, Give thanks in all circumstances,
For this is God's will for you in Christ Jesus. ( I Thessalonians
5:16-18 NIV )

2) ANGELS EXIST, but some times, since they don't all have wings, we
call them FRIENDS......

3) Just because you're in pain, doesn't mean you have to be one!