Symptoms of heartburn and GERD are typically treated with over the counter and prescription medication. Over time, these medications lose their effectiveness and require a life-long commitment to the drugs. At Jackson Health System, we use cutting-edge technology to treat patients suffering from heartburn.
Services Provided At These Hospitals & Locations
The Digestive Center of Health is a comprehensive, integrated care system for patients with digestive disorders. In one convenient facility, our patients have access to care from a team of specialists including gastroenterologists, surgeons, pathologists, radiologists and support staff. Our team utilizes cutting-edge technology to diagnose and treat conditions ranging from gastroesophageal reflux and celiac disease to colorectal cancer and inflammatory bowel disease.
GERD is the chronic reflux of stomach content into the esophagus. GERD has several symptoms including heartburn, difficulty swallowing and burning of the mouth and throat. If heartburn symptoms occur, two or more times per week, they are most likely caused by GERD.
The severity of GERD depends on the dysfunction of the muscular valve controlling the acid reflux, as well as the type and amount of fluid brought up from the stomach. Treatments aim to reduce the amount of reflux or reduce the potential for damage to the esophageal lining from refluxed substances. Typical treatment is lifestyle and dietary modification to lessen acid reflux.
Heartburn is a daily occurrence for about 10% of Americans and up to 50% of pregnant women. It’s an occasional nuisance for 30% of the population.
Tests, Treatments & Procedures
Symptoms of heartburn and GERD are typically treated with over the counter and prescription medication. Over time, these medications lose their effectiveness and require a life-long commitment to the drugs.
For people with severe GERD that exhausted drug and lifestyle modifications, surgery is an option. Laparoscopic surgery is an alternative to traditional surgery, which usually requires long and deep incisions and a lengthy recovery. Laparoscopic surgery is a minimally invasive procedure that corrects GERD by creating an improved valve at the bottom of the esophagus.
To correct GERD, the surgeon wraps the upper part of the stomach around the lower portion of the esophagus. This creates a tight valve so that food will not reflux back into the esophagus.
Currently, the only physicians in Miami Dade County performing this procedure are at Jackson South Medical Center. This incisionless procedure was developed to emulate more invasive surgical techniques, but from within and completely without incisions and visible scars. The FDA cleared the device that is used in this completely incisionless surgery that is performed through the mouth, rather than through an abdominal incision.
Typically lasting no more than 30-45 minutes, the procedure is performed under general anesthesia and reconstructs the antireflux barrier to restore the competency of the gastroesophageal junction. Most patients can go home the next day and return to work within a few days.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
What is gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD)?
It is the flow of the stomach’s contents and acid back up into the esophagus. This happens when the esophageal valve, part of the antireflux barrier becomes weak or nonfunctional. GERD is also called heartburn, reflux and esophageal reflux.
What are the consequences of GERD?
Over the long term, persistent exposure of the delicate tissue of the esophagus to the acid contents of the stomach can cause chronic inflammation or esophagitis which can lead to a potentially serious condition called Barret’s Esophagus.
In some cases GERD suffers may experience non-heartburn symptoms. Symptoms may include hoarseness, persistent cough, dental erosions, sore throat, discomfort in the ears and nose and asthma-like symptoms. These symptoms can not typically be resolved through drug therapy.
How is GERD treated?
In addition to dietary controls, medications like non-prescription antacids, PPIs (proton pump inhibitors) and H2 blockers help prevent the acceleration of GERD. Over time however, these medications may lose their effectiveness requiring increased dosage, increasing cost and the increasing the risk of long term side effects. Invasive surgical procedures such as the Nissen Fundoplication have long been known to be effective therapy for GERD. The risk of adverse events and the invasive nature of these procedures has made them lose popularity in recent years. A new incisionless procedure offers a minutely invasive surgical solution for the treatment of GERD, a clinically proven procedure without incisions.
What is the incisionless procedure?
The incisionless surgical procedure is performed through the mouth which reconstructs the barrier between the stomach and esophagus to prevent stomach fluids from refluxing up into esophagus. This procedure is completely incisionless so it has less risk, reduced recovery time and no visible scar.
What can the patient expect from the incisionless procedure?
The procedure is performed safely, quickly, comfortably, with no incisions and with minimal downtime. While under anesthesia the flexible device will be gently lowered through the mouth into the stomach under the visualization of an endoscope “video” placed down the shaft of the device. Once inside the stomach, the surgeon will manipulate the device to create a tight sealing valve and hold it in place with suture-like fasteners.
What can the patient expect after treatment?
Most patients can return to work the next day or within a few days following the procedure. Patients will likely experience some manageable discomfort in their chest, nose, throat and stomach for the first few days to a week. Patients will be asked to restrict physical activity for the first week and will be given dietary guidelines to help maximize their success while their new antireflux valve heals.
Is it safe?
The incisionless surgery has been proven safe and used in hundreds of procedures worldwide. It’s expected to be safer than traditional surgery which often involves incisions in the skin for access to the organs, and cutting around the organs to free the desired area for suturing. With this incisionless surgery, there are no incisions inside the organs or outside on the skin.
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