Surgery — GERD (Anti-Acid-Reflux)
Heartburn is caused by stomach acid refluxing or splashing up into the esophagus, the muscular tube that connects the throat to the stomach. Occasional heartburn is nothing to be concerned about, but about 25 million American adults experience daily heartburn. Anyone who has heartburn on a regular basis should consult a physician.
Constant exposure to stomach acid can irritate the lining of the esophagus and cause problems. Serious heartburn is known as gastroesophageal reflux disease or GERD.
What is GERD?
The esophagus carries food and liquid into the stomach. At the lower end of the esophagus where it enters the stomach, there is a strong muscular ring called the lower esophageal sphincter (LES). The LES should remain tightly closed, except to allow food and liquid to pass into the stomach. Reflux occurs when the LES is not working properly. It may relax for periods of time throughout the day and night, or it may be constantly too weak to function effectively. This allows the stomach's acid juices to flow into the esophagus.
It is also common to find a hiatal hernia complicating GERD. With a hiatal hernia, the upper part of the stomach actually pushes up into the chest through a weakness in the diaphragm.
The diaphragm is the thin, flat muscle that separates the chest from the abdomen. When part of the upper stomach is stuck above the diaphragm, stomach acid is retained there for a longer period and is more likely to reflux into the esophagus.
How does surgery help alleviate GERD symptoms?
Fundoplication, or the tightening of the LES muscle surgically, successfully solves GERD for more than 85% of the people who undergo the surgery. Patients who have been placed on anti-acid-reflux are often good candidates for the surgery.
Besides recreating the LES muscle during GERD surgery, any existing hiatal hernias are repaired.
Our surgeons have been performing laparoscopic GERD surgery since 1991 and are very experienced in this surgical procedure.
For more information on GERD and its symptoms, visit heartburnHELP.com.
This service is provided at PeaceHealth Medical Group Surgery.