GERD is a chronic digestive disease. Patients with this condition experience a flow of stomach acid and/or contents into the esophagus from the stomach. This causes a variety of symptoms, including acid reflux, burning in the throat or chest, indigestion, difficulty swallowing, sore throat, and cough.
GERD usually occurs when the lower esophageal sphincter, which is responsible for allowing food to pass from the throat into the stomach, gets weak or relaxes too often. This allows stomach acid to flow back up into the esophagus and causes discomfort that could lead to other health problems.
The first line of treatment for GERD is typically an over-the-counter or prescription medication to control the symptoms. Patients may also make lifestyle changes, such as avoiding certain foods or by elevating the upper body at night. However, in some cases, these conservative treatments won’t be sufficient. For patients that don’t improve with conservative treatment, surgery may be the best option.
Surgery can improve the symptoms of GERD for patients who aren’t responding well to medications or simply want to avoid long-term medication usage. Two different surgical procedures are available for patients with GERD: Linx and Nissen fundoplication. Dr. Patel can help patients determine which of these procedures is best for them.
The Nissen fundoplication procedure is designed to tighten the esophageal sphincter. During this procedure, the surgeon wraps the top part of the stomach around the outside of the lower portion of the esophagus. This prevents the backflow of acid and reduces the symptoms of GERD. In most cases, Dr. Patel will perform this procedure laparoscopically.
The recovery period following esophageal surgery can vary. Most patients will be able to return to their normal activities in 2-3 weeks.