Millions of Americans experience heartburn, but for those whose symptoms are persistent, the nuisance of heartburn can actually be gastroesophageal reflux disease, or GERD.
While GERD can be detrimental to an individual’s quality of life and, over time, even increase the risk for certain cancers, cause voice changes and more, there are a number of treatment options available that you can discuss with your medical provider.
The first-line for treating GERD is typically medication. Occasional reflux can be treated with over-the-counter antacids, which neutralize the acids in the stomach that rise into the esophagus and cause that burning sensation.
You can also speak with your physician about taking a histamine-2-receptor antagonist (H2RA) or a proton pump inhibitor (PPI) — medications that are designed to reduce the amount of acid produced by the stomach. Both H2RAs and PPIs are available over-the-counter for short-term use or in prescription strength for longer-term, physician-supervised use. Both medications are also relatively new, and studies are ongoing to determine any health risks from long-term use.
For patients who don’t experience relief from medicinal therapies or who worry about long-term use of these medications, surgical interventions are an option.
While relatively small numbers of GERD sufferers end up choosing surgical solutions, advancements in minimally invasive techniques and innovative device designs are making surgery a more appealing option for many people.
At Carrollton Surgical Group, we offer patients an approach using the LINX Reflux Management System — a minimally invasive, outpatient solution that allows a vast majority of patients to achieve normal digestion without the burning of GERD.
Studies have shown that 85 percent of patients treated with the LINX system no longer required medication for GERD five years after the procedure. Almost all — 99 percent — no longer experienced heartburn that affected their sleep, and 97 percent no longer had to alter their diet due to heartburn.
The LINX Reflux Management System involves placing a band of magnetic beads around the base of the esophagus near the stomach. The attraction of the magnetic beads helps keep the stomach closed, prohibiting acid from rising in the esophagus. However, when the patient swallows or burbs, the force is enough to push the magnetic beads apart and allow food to enter the stomach or gas to leave.
The system is well-tolerated in almost all patients — and if it’s not, it’s a relatively easy procedure to remove the band of beads and evaluate other therapies since the procedure does not require any changes to the patient’s anatomy like other surgical approaches to GERD treatment.
The LINX system is implanted in a hospital operating suite, but patients generally go home after coming out of anesthesia.
If you suffer from GERD and would like a surgical consultation, speak with your physician about a referral or call Carrollton Surgical Group at 770-834-3336 to schedule a consultation with one of our board-certified surgeons. Appointments are available in Carrollton, Villa Rica and Bremen. More information on the practice is available online at CarrolltonSurgical.org.