If, after exhausting all treatment possibilities and lifestyle changes, you are still experiencing intense pain and burning, you may be a good candidate for acid reflux surgery. Surgery may be also indicated if you have experienced other medical difficulties. There are new procedures to treat acid reflux using endoscopy for a minimally invasive approach.
When to Think About Acid Reflux Surgery
Most individuals with GERD will be able to treat their heartburn symptoms properly without the hassles of surgery. There are some people who still have acid reflux symptoms after attempting to treat them with heartburn medication, diet and lifestyle changes. These are the individuals who are helped the most from acid reflux surgery.
If you have heartburn that simply does not go away even though you have done everything else correctly, you may want to consider acid reflux surgery. Here are some other conditions where surgery may help:
- Esophogitis, this is a critical swelling of the esophagus.
- Stricture, which is a non-cancerous narrowing of the esophagus.
- A condition called Barrett’s esophagus, which is a modification in the cells in the esophagus.
Of course, there is risk involved with any surgery, so acid reflux surgery should be carefully planned out only after all other heartburn medications and options have failed to work. There are tests that can be executed to determine if the muscle in the esophagus is functioning properly. These two tests are: esophageal motility studies and esophageal manometry.
Types of Acid Reflux Surgery
Fundoplication is the most performed surgery for chronic heartburn. This procedure has several steps:
- An incision is made into the abdomen. The surgeon will make either one larger opening or choose to do a few smaller cuts to accommodate a laparoscope.
- If the surgeon chooses laparoscopic fundoplication, surgical tools are used to perform the procedure from outside the body. However, if the procedure is done in open fashion, the surgeon will utilize his or her own hands.
- The top of the stomach is sewn around the lower esophagus. This helps to tighten the esophagus and prevents stomach acid from traveling into the esophagus which in turn, stops the heartburn symptoms.
- There is a significantly shorter recovery period with laparoscopic acid reflux surgery. And it also provides less scaring for the patient. If laparoscopic surgery is performed by a highly skilled surgeon, it will work equally as well as the traditional open surgery.
- There are some instances where the symptoms come back and more surgery is indicated.
- A Minimally Invasive Process
With endoscopy, G.E.R.D. can be treated right in the esophagus without needing to attack the abdomen. This process utilizes a flexible tube which slides through the mouth and down the esophagus to the stomach. There is a camera and light positioned on the tube to assist the surgeon with visualization. At this point, the surgeon will take some samples of tissue and also be able to use other surgical tools.
Check Out This Video on Fundoplication
Endoscopic Treatments for Acid Reflux and GERD Are:
- This procedure is performed with small-scale surgical tools located at the end of an endoscope. The surgeon will firmly attach one end of the esophagus to the stomach at the top. This is called the Esohpyx system. Another procedure called the EndoCinch system, the surgeon will place stitches in the lower part of the esophagus which strengthens it with pleats.
The Stretta Procedure
- This procedures involves the use of radiofrequency during endoscopy. High doses of these waves are directed at the lower esophagus wall. This produces scar tissue in small amounts which acts to reduce the symptoms of G.E.R.D. Sometimes it will take more than one treatment with the radiofrequency may be needed to attain satisfactory results.
These endoscopic procedures don’t require a hospital stay, general anesthesia or incisions and are quite effective, however they are not as good as the traditional and more extensive acid reflux surgery.
What to Expect After Acid Reflux Surgery
Between 90% – 95% of people surveyed are satisfied with their results five years after fundoplication. At least 80% of people report their symptoms are either nearly or completely cured.
Acid reflux surgery sometimes does not cure all heartburn symptoms. There are cases where patience need to continue taking heartburn medication after these procedures to help with remaining symptoms. Even with that, most say they are satisfied with the results of the surgeries.
The risks of acid reflux surgery include:
- Swallowing is sometimes difficult
- Bloating with gas
- Additional surgery for about 10%
- Infection of Wounds
Please remember, that is always recommended that you talk over all risks with your health professional.