GERD Surgical Treatment Procedures, Surgery Options

GERD Surgical Treatment Procedures, Surgery Options You can never take acid reflux disease (better known as GERD) too lightly.  It can be a serious medical condition which if left undiagnosed – and treated – can cause  some serious side effects, including esophageal cancer.

In most cases, prescription medication taken in conjunction with dietary changes is all that is necessary to reverse acid reflux symptoms and heal the throat and esophagus.  But when these common remedies fail, you may have to consider a more serious treatment option: surgery.

Fixing a Malfunctioning Sphincter Muscle

The sphincter muscle is a small muscle-type flap that connects the esophagus to the stomach.  When you eat, the flap opens, allowing food and liquid to make its way to the stomach, where digestive juices can begin to break down for absorption in the body.

Sometimes, however, this flap gets stuck sometimes, failing to seal correctly. This can be caused by a variety of reasons – injury, illness and even smoking.  Regardless of what is keeping the sphincter from closing correctly, the fact is that by having it open (even a little bit),some of the normal acids found in the stomach can begin to back up into the esophagus.

It is these acids which cause heartburn, indigestion and even a burning sensation in the back of the throat. Those who experience hoarseness, cough or chronic sore throat from their GERD are in the initial stage of having the symptoms with long term consequences.

Since letting acid reflux continue for years untreated can cause irrefutable harm to the esophagus and even allow cancer cells to take hold there, fixing the problem early on is crucial to your health.

Most health care providers will begin GERD treatment with a multi-faceted approach including making dietary changes and trying prescription strength acid reducers. When these remedies fail, however, surgery to fix the malfunctioning sphincter muscle may be offered as an option.

GERD Surgery Not an Option for Everyone

Most people never have to worry about undergoing sphincter muscle surgery. Why? Because the vast majority of GERD patients respond well to less invasive treatment plans.  Since surgery is only used as a last resort type of treatment only a handful of patients qualify for the procedure.

What GERD Surgery Is All About

It may sound simple enough to fix a broken flap in the throat. Unfortunately and the fact is, it is not. The operation used to treat GERD is called fundoplication.  It is a pretty complicated procedure that involves more than simply repairing the malfunctioning sphincter muscles in the throat.  It also requires creating a one-way valve between the stomach and esophagus so that acid is unable to make its way back up into the throat.

If you are unfamiliar with the fundoplication procedure, here is what it is all about:

First, the surgeon must wrap part of the stomach around the esophagus to create a type of collar there. Then, he tacks it down to make the one-way valve effect for food.  This is all done using a laproscope.

By making several slits in the side of the stomach, instruments and a fibro optic camera can be inserted, through which the entire operation is completed.  This allows for much less scarring, pain and overall recovery.

Although the use of laparoscope makes the surgery safer now than ever before, fundoplication still offers quite a few risks like infection.  It does not always work in all patients. Still, for many the risks are worth taking, since the risk of developing esophageal cancer is so high among these types of patients.

Choosing a GERD Surgery Specialist

Since this type of acid reflux surgery is so complicated, only surgeons specifically trained in the procedure should be considered when choosing one for yourself or a loved one. Be sure to ask for referrals to a specialist and ask loads of questions to make sure that you are completely comfortable with the surgeon you have chosen.

Not an easy decision to make, the right doctor should be able to help you make the best choice for treating your acid reflux disease using this all-important surgical procedure.

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