For gastroesophageal reflux disease or GERD sufferers, life is often dictated by just how bad their acid reflux and spasms are on any given day. Many live in fear of pain caused by esophageal spasms so severe they’re sometimes mistaken for a heart attack. Now there is hope for those who are afflicted with chronic GERD – a procedure called the LINX® reflux management system. It keeps stomach acids from traveling up the esophagus and causing GERD.
Generally referred to as reflux, GERD affects 20 percent of the population. It’s caused by a weak muscle in the esophagus that allows stomach acid to enter the esophagus and cause chronic inflammation. GERD sufferers typically have burning pain in their chests and throats, trouble swallowing, and the feeling of food sticking rather than being properly swallowed. The worst cases can put a patient at risk for esophageal cancer and chronic pulmonary disease.
Reflux can sometimes be managed by lifelong medications, but severe cases can require surgery. About 60 percent are well controlled on medication, but there’s a gap of patients who aren’t. Approved by the Federal Drug Administration in 2012, the LINX surgery is designed to target the gap population.
LINX is a series of titanium beads with magnetic cores connected together as a small bracelet with titanium wires. A surgeon implants the bracelet laparoscopically around the esophagus to increase the tone of the valve that normally prevents stomach acid from traveling up the esophagus. The power of the magnetic beads keeps a weak or failed lower esophageal sphincter closed, and the normal pressure generated by swallowing expands the magnets of the device and allows the sphincter to open.
If you suffer from uncontrolled GERD, schedule an appointment with Dr. Shawn Tsuda. He can assess your situation and explain your treatment options.