With diet and lifestyle changes, you can prevent mild-to-moderate reflux symptoms. Unfortunately, certain people are not helped by lifestyle changes or medication. Surgery may be an option for these people. This article addresses acid reflux surgery options.
What is Acid Reflux?
Acid reflux or GERD (gastroesophageal reflux disease) is a condition in which the stomach contents return to the oesophagus. This can cause complications or troubling symptoms. One reason this happens is that it affects the lower oesophageal sphincter (LES). Typically, the LES closes after eating or drinking to prevent food getting back into the oesophagus.
Related: how to manage acid reflux during pregnancy?
Acid reflux symptoms include:
- chronic cough
- bad breath
- difficulty swallowing
- repeated vomiting
There are many explanations for a weak lower esophageal sphincter (LES). If you have a bad LES, you can experience more reflux if you eat or drink certain foods. Surgery could be the last option for those who do not react well either to acid reflux remedies or medications.
Acid Reflux Surgery Procedures
Usually, surgery for GERD or acid reflux is the last option. First your doctor will try to treat your symptoms with drugs, lifestyle changes, and herbal remedies. If these methods don’t give you relief, then your doctor will recommend surgery. There are many options for surgery that may help relieve symptoms of GERD and control complications. However, your doctor will help you decide which procedure would improve your symptoms the most.
Key surgery for stubborn acid reflux is called fundoplication. The surgeon may either directly access the areas of the body they are operating on (open fundoplication). Your surgeon will cut into your abdomen for open surgery. Then they wrap all upper parts of your stomach around the lower part of your oesophagus and sew it in place (1).
They can also do it as a laparoscopic procedure. This form of surgery requires a few minor incisions. They will use special tools, including a thin tube with a light and a camera called a laparoscope, to operate from the outside. For GERD, this is the normal surgical procedure. This standard form of surgery has a top record of long-term success.
Transoral Incisionless Fundoplication
This technique is used when it is not suitable for open fundoplication. It forms a barrier between the oesophagus and the stomach. The barrier prevents stomach acid reflux. It doesn’t require incisions, however; they insert a gadget through your mouth, called an EsophyX. At the base of the oesophagus, it produces many folds.
The folds form a new valve. Since it does not need incisions, this may be an excellent choice for people with GERD. This may be the solution you choose if drugs do not cure your GERD, but you do not want more invasive surgery.
Based on the most recent results, TIF (transoral incisionless fundoplication) appears to be a useful option for the care of moderate to extreme chronic GERD symptoms (2).
Bard EndoCinch System
They use an endoscope in this method. In the LES, stitches are made to form pleats. This strengthens the lower oesophageal sphincter. As others mentioned above, this technique is not as standard. Endoscopic gastroplication (EndoCinch) is a safe and minimally invasive endoscopic procedure with fair short-term outcomes. In comparison, the long-term results of this procedure are disappointing (3).
In stretta procedure, your surgeon uses an endoscope to perform this operation. This is a thin, flexible tube that can be threaded through. An electrode heats the esophageal tissue at the end of the tube and makes tiny cuts in it. In the oesophagus, the wounds form scar tissue. It blocks the nerves which react to re-fluxed acid. The scar tissue strengthen the muscles that surround it. This endoscopic method is safe, effective, and repeatable (4).
They use a special device called Linx in this surgery. It is a ring of tiny titanium magnetic beads. The Linx strengthens the sphincter as it is wrapped around the LES. They move together to hold the gap between the stomach and oesophagus closed, since it magnetises the beads. As this is a minimally invasive recovery period for surgery. Thus, it is typically much shorter than conventional surgery. This form of operation often has less pain linked to it. This is a fairly new technique, but it provides promising results for acid reflux disease relief (5).
Recovery for each surgery is slightly different, but depends mostly on whether the surgery is laparoscopic or typical. Although there is a faster recovery time and less pain than conventional laparoscopic surgery, it may not be suitable for every person with GERD. It would be necessary for your doctor and surgeon to determine which is best for you.
The Bottom Line
Although surgery is typically the last option for treating GERD. It would be possible for your doctor to help you decide which treatment would improve your symptoms the most. Your doctor will also be able to make sure that the procedure is a suitable candidate for you.