Anti-Reflux (GERD) Surgery
Anti-reflux surgery is a treatment for acid reflux, also known as GERD (gastroesophageal reflux disease). GERD is a condition in which food or stomach acid comes back up from your stomach into the esophagus. The esophagus is the tube from your mouth to the stomach. Reflux often occurs if the muscles where the esophagus meets the stomach do not close tightly enough. A hiatal hernia can make GERD symptoms worse. It occurs when the stomach bulges through this opening into your chest.
Symptoms of reflux or heartburn are burning in the stomach that you may also feel in your throat or chest, burping or gas bubbles, or trouble swallowing food or fluids.
When to Consider Acid Reflux Surgery
You may want to consider surgery if acid reflux is diminishing your quality of life.
Your doctor may decide you are a good candidate for anti reflux surgery if:
‣ Your symptoms do not respond to lifestyle changes or medications.
‣ You continually require medications to control your symptoms and do not want lifelong medication use.
‣ You can’t tolerate medications that treat acid reflux due to their side effects.
‣ You are experiencing complications from acid reflux, such as bleeding or scarring of your esophagus.
Surgery is done while you are under general anesthesia, so you are asleep and pain-free. Surgery most often takes 2 to 3 hours. Your surgeon may choose from different techniques.
• Your surgeon will make 1 large surgical cut in your belly.
• A tube may be inserted into your stomach through the abdomen to keep the stomach wall in place. This tube will be taken out in about a week.
• Your surgeon will make 3 to 5 small cuts in your belly. A thin tube with a tiny camera on the end is inserted through one of these cuts.
• Surgical tools are inserted through the other cuts. The laparoscope is connected to a video monitor in the operating room.
• Your surgeon does the repair while viewing the inside of your belly on the monitor.
• The surgeon may need to switch to an open procedure in case of problems.
• This is a new procedure that can be done without making cuts. A special camera on a flexible tool (endoscope) is passed down through your mouth and into your esophagus.
• Using this tool, the doctor will put small clips in place at the point where the esophagus meets the stomach. These clips help prevent food or stomach acid from backing up.
Recovery from Anti-Reflux surgery
Most people who have laparoscopic surgery can leave the hospital within 1 to 3 days after the procedure. You may need a hospital stay of 2 to 6 days if you have open surgery. Most people can return to normal activities in 4 to 6 weeks.