Chronic acid reflux, or gastroesophageal reflux disease
(GERD), affects roughly 20 percent of the U.S. population. Individuals with the disease may suffer from symptoms such as heartburn, reflux of fluid into the mouth, inability to lie flat at night, chronic bad breath, cavities or adult-onset asthma. Nonsurgical treatment of symptoms may include lifestyle modifications along with regular use of medications.
Dr. Helen Sohn, a board-certified surgeon affiliated with Sharp Grossmont Hospital, answers a few questions about GERD, including the newest surgical treatment option available — Linx Reflux Management System.
What treatment options are available for GERD?
The most common treatments for GERD are medications that decrease acid production by the stomach. However, this type of treatment does not stop the actual fluid reflux into the stomach and unwanted metabolic side effects may sometimes occur. Reflux symptoms can also be minimized or prevented by maintaining a more upright position and not lying down immediately after a meal. For those who do not respond to nonsurgical treatments, surgery may be an option.
How does traditional surgery treat GERD?
The traditional method of surgery involves wrapping the upper part of the stomach around the lower esophagus to tighten it. While this prevents acid from rising into the stomach, there may be unwanted side effects, including bloating, flatulence and inability to vomit.
How is the Linx treatment of GERD different than traditional surgery?
Linx is a device consisting of small titanium beads with a magnetic core that link together with titanium wires. The device is implanted around the outside of the esophagus and its magnetic force is equal to the body's natural lower esophageal sphincter pressure — enough to prevent reflux from occurring without the same side effects or disruption of anatomy as the traditional surgery.
How can I determine which treatment option for GERD is right for me?
If you think you suffer from GERD, it is important that you discuss your symptoms with your doctor, who can provide you with an assessment and diagnosis. Individuals who are diagnosed with GERD should also discuss treatment options with their doctor, including surgical and nonsurgical treatments.
For More Information
To learn more about the Linx treatment or to find a Sharp-affiliated physician, search for a San Diego gastroenterologist or call 1-800-82-SHARP (1-800-827-4277), Monday through Friday, 8 am to 6 pm.
||About the Expert
Dr. Helen Sohn is a board-certified surgeon affiliated with Sharp Grossmont Hospital. She practices out of La Mesa, Calif.