What is GERD?
Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease, or GERD, is a condition which develops when there is an abnormal reflux of stomach contents into the esophagus, which is the tube connecting the mouth and the stomach. It is a mechanical disorder, and results in symptoms such as heartburn and even cough, asthma, hoarseness, and chest pain.
GERD can injure the lining of the esophagus, causing esophagitis. This can lead to changes in the lining of the esophagus that can ultimately turn into cancer. This year, more than 15,000 Americans will be diagnosed with cancer of the esophagus. Nearly 14,000 people will die of the disease.
Many people enjoy symptom relief from occasional heartburn and acid reflux with home remedies such as:
- Small changes to eating routines such as eating smaller meals and avoiding fried and fatty foods, chocolate and peppermint.
- Exercise and weight loss.
- Elevating your head with pillows while you sleep.
Unfortunately for those with GERD, these remedies often offer only marginal and temporary relief. Many sufferers turn to stronger medication, however continued use of acid-suppressing drugs has been connected to an increased risk of esophagus cancer. Another option for long-term elimination of GERD symptoms is an anti-reflux procedure that has been shown to significantly improve patients’ quality of life for more than 90 percent of those who undergo the surgery.
The Anti-Reflux Procedure
A fundoplication, which strengthens the barrier between the stomach and esophagus, is the standard surgical treatment for GERD. It is covered by most insurances. Candidates for this anti-reflux procedure:
- Have not experienced symptom relief from over-the-counter antacids or prescription medicines and remaining symptoms are related to the reflux of stomach juices.
- Cannot tolerate drug remedies for the long term because of related side effects.
- Suffer from reflux complications such as ulcers, hernias or esophagus damage.
- Are willing to accept the surgical risks of the procedure rather than continue to suffer with the daily symptoms and long-term health risks of GERD.
The procedure liberates the sufferer from all symptoms and lifestyle limitations. Additionally: it puts an end to the reflux cycle, eliminates the need for diet restrictions, and discontinues the reliance on acid suppressing medications.
Today the procedure is performed laparoscopically, which means it is minimally invasive, requires only a few small incisions, and is associated with a fast recovery. Patients can expect minimal pain and the ability to care for themselves in only a few days. The small incisions heal quickly and are barely visible in a few short months.
We also treat GERD without incisions, using the advanced transoral incisionless fundoplication, or TIF procedure.