July 5, 2017
Surgeons at the Brody School of Medicine at East Carolina University are offering a new outpatient procedure to treat acid reflux disease.
In individuals with Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease, or GERD, a weak muscle in the lower esophagus, which normally acts as a one-way valve to the stomach, allows stomach contents to back up into the esophagus. Symptoms of the disease include heartburn, hoarseness, coughing and wheezing. Uncontrolled acid reflux can lead to serious complications, including esophageal cancer and chronic irreversible pulmonary disease.
GERD sufferers have traditionally been prescribed a daily medication to reduce the acid level in the stomach, but these medications can have a wide range of side effects and long-term complications – from nausea to osteoporosis and even pneumonia.
Patients in the East have a new option which could be implanted in less than an hour: a LINX® device – a flexible, quarter-size, titanium ring of magnets – around the outside of the lower esophagus to preserve normal physiological function. The device expands temporarily to allow food and liquids to pass through when the patient swallows, but it prevents stomach acid from flowing back up from the stomach into the esophagus.
“Pills do not address the cause of reflux or prevent it; they are merely a Band-Aid for the symptoms,” said ECU thoracic and foregut surgeon Dr. Carlos Anciano. “Patients deserve an option to avoid taking medications for the rest of their lives that have extensive long-term side effects. They deserve to have a choice, with a procedure that addresses the problem, not masking it but providing a solution.”
Anciano and his colleague Dr. James Speicher are the only physicians in Vidant Health’s 29-county service area performing the procedure. It’s minimally invasive, takes less than an hour, and the cost is covered by many health insurance companies. Most patients resume a normal diet the same day, and 85 percent never require daily GERD medication again.
Earlier this year, Genes Norris of Beulaville was one of the first patients to undergo the procedure at Vidant Medical Center.
“I’d been dealing with GERD for 40 years and taking medication for it almost that long,” he said. “I used to wake up at night feeling like I was choking. I had coughing so bad, I thought I had bronchitis. And it was corrected in a day.”
Anciano noted that there are other surgical treatments for reflux, but unlike the LINX® procedure, they alter the anatomy of the stomach and often result in recurrence of reflux and a wide range of side effects.
For more information about the LINX® procedure, or to make an appointment for an evaluation, call 252-744-4536.