“Having surgery to repair Gastro Esophageal Reflux Disease (GERD), a severe form of acid reflux, can make an enormous difference to many patients’ quality of life. Patients with this condition suffer from symptoms ranging from increased risk of developing esophageal cancer, chest pain and burning after eating to an inability to comfortably sleep through the night without heartburn. After surgery, they can get back to life without the pain and worry of when the next attack might come.”
Julie Hutchinson, MD
Board Certified General Surgeon
Gastro Esophageal Reflux Disease (GERD) is a severe form of acid reflux in which the esophageal sphincter, a circular muscle that regulates the passage of fluids in and out of the esophagus, opens when it should not, or closes incorrectly, resulting is an upward flow of stomach acid into the esophagus. This mainly occurs because the stomach is pushed too far up into the chest cavity, or is positioned in an awkward angle.
As General Surgeon Julie Hutchinson, MD, explained, “The presence of stomach acid in the esophagus can cause intense pain and burning sensations more commonly known as heartburn. In some patients, it can become so severe that they actually come to the emergency room with the impression that they’re having a heart attack. It can affect everything from their ability to enjoy normal meals to their sleeping patterns.
Over time, untreated reflux can even cause cellular damage to the esophagus, resulting in an increased risk of developing esophageal cancer.” Surgical repair of GERD can often be done laparoscopically. According to Dr. Hutchinson, “During surgery, we loosely wrap the stomach around itself to keep it in the right position, and restore the angle you’re naturally born with to prevent acid reflux. Following surgery, patients are on a modified diet for about a month, which involves eating liquids and pureed food for at least two weeks.”