Patients who suffer from chronic heartburn or gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD) may have a condition called hiatal hernia. This is a dilatation of the normally occurring teardrop shaped opening in the diaphragm through which the esophagus passes from the chest into the abdomen to reach the stomach. The degree of dilatation and the resultant herniation of stomach through the dilatation are variable, as are the symptoms and treatment required. Patients who are unsuccessful in controlling symptoms with lifestyle changes and/or medications may be candidates for surgical correction of the hernia.
Other patients may have dysfunction of the lower esophageal sphincter, which is the circular muscle at the end of the esophagus that normally keeps stomach acid and food from backing up into the esophagus. This gives rise to gastroesophageal reflux, or heartburn.
And some patients have both a hiatal hernia and dysfunction of the sphincter. Surgery for heartburn often involves correction of both with an operation called hiatal hernia repair with Nissen fundoplication.
Patients who have not achieved relief of their heartburn with lifestyle changes and or medication, are good candidates for a surgical procedure. These procedures are performed simultaneously using laparoscopy or robotic approach, and usually requires only an overnight stay in the hospital. Patient are able to return to normal activities and work in a few days.
Some patients may be a candidate for an implanted device which has been shown to have similar results in controlling heartburn and reflux. The LINX device is a “bracelet” of small magnets which is placed around the esophagus immediately before the stomach. This surgery can be performed as an outpatient in most cases.
Learn more about the LINX device and how it can help you by clicking here.