If your GERD symptoms are becoming too hard to swallow, it may be time for surgical intervention.
GERD, a chronic condition characterized by heartburn and acid reflux, is a common digestive disorder that affects millions of people ranging from mild, random episodes to weekly and even daily occurrences. When GERD symptoms begin to frequently recur, irrespective of “clean” diets and refraining from indulging in meals full of fatty foods, it can cause dread when dining. Regardless of the level of symptoms you’re currently experiencing, there is an effective, permanent solution to your esophageal apprehension.
What is GERD?
GERD, or gastroesophageal reflux disease, is a chronic condition that occurs when stomach acid or bile flows into the food pipe (esophagus), essentially irritating and inflaming the lining of the esophagus and causing an unsettling burning sensation that can be felt in the back of the throat and upper chest. Other typical symptoms include regurgitation (undigested food or liquid traveling up into your throat, especially when bending over) or dysphagia (the feeling of food being stuck in your throat or chest). The majority of patients suffering from GERD have a hiatal hernia while others have a weakened lower esophageal sphincter (LES) or one that relaxes abnormally. Though not life-threatening, long-term, untreated GERD can lead to more problematic health issues, such as esophagitis (chronic irritation/inflammation of the esophagus due to stomach acid burn) which is a risk factor for cancer.
Feeling the Burn: When it’s Time to Talk Surgery
While most people can manage mild symptoms and discomfort with over-the-counter remedies and minor lifestyle changes, others may require prescription medication or surgery to relieve chronic GERD symptoms. If your GERD symptoms are leading to disrupted sleep, fear of food, and chest pain, and you have a burning desire to seek surgical intervention, there are several, advanced surgeries available. Dr. Danny Shouhed, M.D., is a top gastrointestinal surgeon specializing in advanced, state-of-the-art treatments for GERD, acid reflux, and heartburn. His lauded surgical methods offer few risks, excellent results, and quicker downtime/recovery than more traditional techniques. Depending on your level of GERD and health needs, Dr. Shouhed’s Beverly Hills-based practice offers four types of minimally-invasive surgery techniques to help “beat the burn” and get your life back without having to give up on the occasional guilty pleasure, or two:
- Stretta is a 60-minute procedure that involves an endoscope going down the throat, reaching the lower esophageal sphincter (LES) to deliver radiofrequency energy, heating and thickening the muscles to restore the natural barrier that prevents acid reflux. Patients are able to return to normal activities within a day after surgery. This intervention typically takes up to six months to work effectively.
- Transoral Incisionless Fundoplication (TIF) is an advanced procedure that uses an endoscope to deliver a special TIF device through the mouth, down the esophagus to repair the body’s natural reflux barrier. An esophagogastric wrap is created around the distal esophagus and kept in place with fasteners, requiring no incisions on the body.
- Fundoplication is a surgical procedure where the surgeon wraps the upper portion of the stomach around the lower end of the esophagus to embolden the anti-reflux barrier, providing permanent relief from painful, burning acid reflux episodes. Fundoplication has been shown to be effective in preventing further damage by stopping digestive fluids from backflowing up into the esophagus.
- LINX surgery uses a cutting-edge LINX device to support the functionality of the LES since GERD weakens this part, allowing stomach acid to “free-flow” back into the esophagus. The LINX device is a small band composed of a circle of mini magnets strategically placed around the LES, allowing it to open to let food and beverage through to the stomach and closing right after to avoid unwanted backflow. Patients can usually return home the same day or the next.
Dr. Danny Shouhed is a renowned, board-certified surgeon, a Cedars Sinai residency-trained and Mount Sinai fellowship-trained leader in minimally-invasive surgeries, including Robotic Gastrointestinal, Bariatric, and General Surgery. Working in collaboration with some of the world’s most reputable surgeons, along with his vast expertise in robotic surgery, quickly culminated in Dr. Shouhed becoming the highest-volume robotic surgeon at Cedars Sinai. With an unwavering dedication for medicine and the surgical arts, and a steadfast commitment to the uncompromised care for his patients, Dr. Shouhed continues to offer exceptional, innovative surgical procedures that effectively improve the patient experience and outcomes. If you’re experiencing problematic symptoms related to GERD or acid reflux, we invite you to contact our office today to speak with any one of our highly-trained staff members and to set up a consultation with Dr. Shouhed.
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