The Reflux Center at Alleghenies Surgical has developed a comprehensive team of highly skilled surgeons, nurses, and allied health professionals by incorporating the latest technology to provide optimal diagnosis and treatment to people suffering from reflux disease.
Gastroesophageal reflux disease is often referred by its acronym GERD. It is a chronic disease of the digestive tract were the acid and bile from the stomach flow back into the esophagus. The result of the acid and bile coming back into the esophagus creates pain and possible damage to the lining of the esophagus.
Most people with GERD will have one or more of the following symptoms: Heartburn, chest pain, hoarseness (often in the morning), asthma, bloating, difficulty swallowing, waking up at night with vomit or acid in throat or on pillow, respiratory Symptoms (coughing & wheezing). Many people unnecessarily suffer through with these symptoms. Over time, these symptoms can lead to more severe conditions:
- Erosion of the esophagus (esophagitis)
- Narrowing of the esophagus (esophageal stricture)
- Regurgitation of acid into the lungs (pneumonia, aspiration pneumonitis, pulmonary fibrosis)
- Adult onset asthma
- Tooth Enamel Erosion
- Barrett’s Esophagus (increased risk of esophageal cancer)
- Esophageal cancer
There are a few tests that we employ to determine the optimal treatment for your reflux. The most common studies include the following:
Reflux Treatment Solutions:
Initial treatment plans for GERD include changes to lifestyle and diet. Several changes in eating habits can be beneficial in treating GERD. Eliminating foods that can alter the LES (lower esophageal sphincters) can help improve some people’s symptoms. These include:
- Alcohol and nicotine
- Caffeinated beverages.
In addition, people find that eliminating spicy, fatty, and acidic foods, can help decrease the heartburn associated with reflux. Ultimate goal in basic lifestyle changes should be towards weight loss. Weight gain has been shown to worsen the effects and symptoms of reflux disease.
Medication treatment for GERD is another initial treatment option. Medications are designed to neutralize the acid or reduce the amount of acid the stomach produces. There are several classifications of medications. Each of the medications can be helpful in controlling the symptoms of GERD, however the mechanism of reflux may still be present. When considering medication therapy, one must also consider the short and long-term side effects of the medication.
H2 Blockers (Histamine Antagonists)
Proton Pump Inhibitors (PPIs)
Minimally Invasive Surgical treatment options for GERD are designed to correct the physical/mechanical causes due to a weak esophageal sphincter by restoring the body’s barrier to reflux.
The LINX is surgical procedure (usually performed laparoscopically or through small incisions), where a ring of magnetic beads are placed at the lower part of the esophagus. The loss of LES is a common reason why people have reflux, and by placing this ring at the bottom part of the esophagus, the LINX essentially mimics the function of the LES. The strength of the magnets helps the valve between the stomach and esophagus closed when you are not eating, therefore this keeps the acid from refluxing up into the esophagus.