Gastroesophageal Reflux Treatment (GERD)
Contact the Contact the Thoracic Surgery ProgramThoracic Surgery Program online for more information or a consultation: 914.666.1766
For people suffering from gastroesophageal reflux disease, or GERD, minimally invasive surgical acid reflux treatment can be life changing.
What Causes Acid Reflux?
Your stomach produces acid in order to digest food. That acid is supposed to remain in the stomach. However, when there is a weakness in the lower esophageal sphincter, or LES, stomach acid can leak out, causing a sharp burning pain in the chest or upper belly.
Your LES is a one-way valve, a "gatekeeper" designed to prevent stomach acid from leaking backward and up, “refluxing” into your esophagus (windpipe). The LES can be weakened or damaged by certain foods, smoking, or genetic factors. When this occurs, it lets highly corrosive stomach acid escape back up into the area between your stomach and your mouth.
A hiatal hernia can also lead to acid reflux, because the hernia causes the LES to be displaced from the stomach area. Being overweight can also contribute to GERD since those who are overweight are at increased risk for developing hiatal hernia.
However, medication and lifestyle modifications only treat the symptoms of GERD. They don't actually repair the root cause of acid reflux.
Acid Reflux and Respiratory Symptoms
In 5% of people with GERD, acid reflux can cause respiratory symptoms when the stomach acids along with stomach contents are regurgitated into the throat and sometimes into the lungs. This can cause chronic coughing, even pneumonia or asthma.
When Do Acid Reflux Symptoms Occur?
Many patients experience an increase in their gastroesophageal reflux disease symptoms when lying down, or when eating or drinking. Why? Because eating stimulates your stomach to produce acid. Plus the acid contained in the food itself can be an irritant to the esophagus walls. When you lie face down, gravity cannot help keep the stomach acid down where it belongs. For a person with GERD symptoms, a heavy meal followed by going to bed can cause intolerable acid reflux pain
Severe GERD and Barrett’s Disease
In about 5% of the cases, acid reflux can lead to Barrett’s disease, a pre-cancerous chronic irritation of the esophagus. People with severe reflux should be monitored regularly with endoscopies.
Acid Reflux Treatments
Many patients with GERD are able to reduce the frequency and severity of their acid reflux symptoms by making lifestyle changes, such as losing excess weight, abstaining from smoking and drinking alcohol, and maintaining a low-fat, low-acid diet.
Over-the-counter and prescription medications such as antacids, proton pump inhibitors (PPIs) and drugs that block histamine receptors are frequently use for gastroesophageal reflux treatment. Medications may help the symptoms of acid reflux, such as nausea, heartburn, and chronic coughing.
Once patients awake from hiatal hernia surgery, they notice that the acid reflux is completely gone, and over the next few weeks, they can get off the anti-reflux medication completely. –Dr. Darren Rohan, Regional Medical Director, Thoracic Surgery
This is because medications do not stop the refluxing action. All they do is reduce the amount of acid in your stomach. There is additional concern about the long-term use of some prescription and over-the-counter gastroesophageal reflux treatments, because these drugs may interact negatively with other medications, or they may reduce bone density over time.
If you suffer from GERD and you've been unable to achieve relief from your symptoms through diet, lifestyle modifications, and/or medications, or you would like to seek an alternative to long-term use of acid suppression medication, you may be a candidate for minimally invasive surgical acid reflux treatment.
Minimally Invasive Surgical Acid Reflux Treatment
Thoracic surgeons perform minimally invasive acid reflux surgery.The da Vinci Surgical System® can effectively fix the underlying structural condition causing GERD, either by fixing a hiatal hernia or, if there is no hernia, by fixing the weakened stomach valve (LES). A procedure known as a nissen fundoplication is performed by northern Westchester thoracic surgeons specially trained in robotic thoracic surgery. Because da Vinci robot’s small flexible instruments require tiny incisions and provide superior visualization, your surgeon as greater control and precision at the surgical site than with open surgery.
A new, strong valve created with minimally invasive robotic surgery prevents acid reflux and provides drug-free relief from acid reflux symptoms.
Innovative Acid Reflux Treatment
Benefits of minimally-invasive gastroesophageal reflux treatment with robotic surgery include:
- Short hospital stay - in most cases, our thoracic surgery patients spend just one night at NWH
- Complete repair of hiatal hernia with minimal scarring
- Speedy recovery period
- Decreased risk of blood loss and infection compared to open surgical procedures
Outcomes from acid reflux treatment using the da Vinci Robot at NWH are excellent, and the vast majority of our patients enjoy complete relief from the symptoms of acid reflux.
To learn more about acid reflux treatment at Northern Westchester Hospital, call us at 914.666.1766 to schedule a consultation with one of our thoracic surgery experts. We're here to help.