Millions of Americans suffer from chronic heartburn, which is usually a symptom of gastro-esophageal reflux disease or GERD. It is due to the acid from the stomach refluxing up into the esophagus. It is often frequent enough to have a significant impact on the individual’s quality of life by keeping him from enjoying certain foods or even keeping him up at night. It can also sometimes lead to serious conditions such as asthma, burning of the esophagus (esophagitis), and even cancer of the esophagus.
Surgery provides a definitive treatment for patients suffering from reflux and allows them to avoid a lifetime of taking various drugs. The anti-reflux surgery is called “Nissen fundoplication” and consists of wrapping part of the stomach around the lowest part of the esophagus in order to stop the reflux. The surgery also repairs the hernia (“hiatal hernia“) that is usually present and that is responsible for making GERD symptoms worse.
At Surgical Specialists, we frequently evaluate patients with chronic GERD who are not getting good symptom relief with medication, as well as patients looking for a permanent cure of their GERD so they do not have to take medications for the rest of their life. We frequently obtain some special esophageal pressure and reflux studies which can be done here at Virginia Hospital Center and coordinated thru our offices.
We perform anti-reflux surgery and hiatal hernia repair using minimally invasive or laparoscopic techniques with only a few very small incisions (less than a quarter inch in size). Occasionally, this can be also done using robotic surgery. Patients may spend at the most one night in the hospital, but frequently may go home the same day. Surgery is usually highly effective and leads to high patient satisfaction.
Stretta Therapy is a minimally invasive, outpatient procedure for GERD that is done via endoscopy so there are no incisions or scars as a result of the procedure. The procedure takes about one hour and patients return to normal activities within 1-2 days.
The Stretta procedure utilizes radiofrequency energy (RF), an energy waveform which is used in many medical specialties for coagulating or treating tissues. RF has been used in surgery for nearly 100 years. The Stretta procedure was cleared by the FDA for the treatment of GERD in April 2000, and uses RF to tighten the valve between the stomach and the esophagus which has been proven to reduce GERD symptoms.
In clinical trials evaluating the Stretta procedure, up to 93% of patients were satisfied with the outcome of their Stretta Therapy, and up to 86% of patients remained off daily GERD medications four years after their Stretta procedure. Stretta has been shown to not only reduce acid exposure, but to improve the muscle structure of the lower esophagus which reduces the random relaxations of the esophagus that are known to cause GERD symptoms.