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General Surgery Blogs

Dr. Steven Williams in Boise, Idaho

When surgery is necessary for GERD treatment
21 December 2016

When surgery is necessary for GERD treatment

We've all had some type of acid regurgitation, but some people experience it chronically, and their symptoms are severe. GERD is gastroesophageal reflux disease, and its most common symptom is severe heartburn. Chronic GERD can damage the esophagus.

LES malfunction
GERD is usually caused by a malfunction of the lower esophageal sphincter (LES). It works like a valve that opens when your swallow. It then closes in order to keep food in the stomach. When the LES malfunctions, gastric contents that include acid are regurgitated.

Fundoplication
With most people, GERD can be controlled with medication, but when symptoms persist despite medication, surgery is the only option. The procedure is known as a fundoplication. That involves building a new barrier that prevents acid reflux from occurring. That barrier consists of part of the stomach being wrapped all the way around the lower esophagus. Sometimes the barrier only needs to be partial without wrapping the esophagus completely.

Types of fundoplication surgery
The most common fundoplication procedure is laparoscopic without the need of large chest incisions. The surgeon makes several small incisions and uses miniaturized instruments including a camera. The procedure can also be an open procedure with a long incision to provide access to the esophagus. The barrier might also be made without the necessity of any incisions in a procedure known as transoral incisionless fundoplication (TIF).

The esophagus is accessed through the patient's mouth, and a surgical device is used to create folds at the base of the esophagus that create a new valve. Other promising surgical procedures are available to treat GERD. Click here to read up on surgery treatments available.

If open fundoplication is performed, the patient is hospitalized for a few days, but about four to six weeks of recovery time will be needed before he or she can get back a normal routine. Laparoscopic surgery is less painful, but a short hospitalization might be required. Expect a two to three week recovery period.

Patients with office jobs who undergo a TIF procedure can expect to be back at work in two or three days.

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The content on this blog is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of qualified health providers with questions you may have regarding medical conditions.

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Practicing surgery in the Treasure Valley since 2002