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Surgery for Heartburn?

Some 60 million Americans experience heartburn at least once a month. But prolonged episodes—known as gastro-esophageal reflux disease, or GERD —can lead to serious tissue damage, bleeding, and even cancer of the esophagus.

Increasingly, surgery is being considered as a permanent fix. That’s because GERD almost always results from a malfunctioning lower-esophageal sphincter, the small ring of muscle circling the esophagus at the point where it opens into the stomach.

There are methods using laparoscopic equipment—small tubes with cameras and tools inserted into the body through tiny cuts—as well as new “incisionless” procedures that reach the valve via the mouth. Surgeons can wrap the top of the stomach around the outside of the esophagus; put stitches near the opening of the sphincter; or heat the tissue at the end of the esophagus to cause scarring, thus “thickening” it so that stomach juices cannot easily go back up (See Gerd Surgery - fundoplication).

Two British studies found that patients who had surgery showed fewer symptoms than those depending entirely on medications.

Clearly, surgery is invasive and makes the most sense only when medication is not an option. If you have GERD, speak to your doctor. (See Q&A about Acid Reflux Surgery)

Source: Parade, 18/04/2010


By Mortin - Copyright 2010
Last modification 19/04/2010