GERD Surgery for Acid Reflux

Gastroesophageal reflux disorder, often referred to as GERD, is an extremely common condition that can have pronounced effects on one’s day-to-day life. Fortunately, GERD is also a very treatable condition for numerous individuals. In fact, it is one of the few chronic stomach disorders that may be completely curable for many patients. Our bariatric surgeon, James Parrish, MD, offers state-of-the-art laparoscopic surgery options for GERD that can help many individuals suffering from chronic acid reflux and the debilitating symptoms of this condition.

What Is GERD?

GERD, or gastroesophageal reflux disorder, is a condition characterized by stomach acid that persistently flows back into the esophagus (the tube going from the mouth to the stomach) instead of remaining in the stomach. The acid can then irritate the lining of the esophagus and potentially cause significant damage. Acid reflux often occurs right after eating, and it may produce symptoms that are worse at night. Some of the most commonly experienced symptoms include heartburn, chest pain, a feeling of acid or food regurgitation, a sensation similar to having something stuck in the throat, and trouble swallowing. Other symptoms can include a chronic cough, a voice that sounds hoarse, problems sleeping, and a new or worsening case of asthma. With that in mind, not all patients experience the same symptoms.

While many individuals occasionally experience acid reflux, those who are diagnosed with GERD typically suffer from mild to severe forms of the condition on a regular basis, often at least once or twice each week. While there are non-surgical remedies and even medications that can be prescribed for GERD, surgical options may be recommended for patients who are not achieving successful results from other solutions.

Untreated GERD can progressively get worse and lead to serious, even life-threatening health conditions. If you are suffering from acid reflux, Dr. Parrish can meet with you to talk about your condition and treatment options available from our practice that may offer an appropriate solution for your needs.

GERD Surgery Options

Dr. Parrish utilizes advanced laparoscopic techniques for our GERD surgery procedures. Laparoscopic surgery enables Dr. Parrish to create very small incisions, which can lead to less noticeable scarring and a quicker recovery period. Our surgical treatment options for GERD include:

Laparoscopic Nissen Fundoplication

Laparoscopic Nissen fundoplication is designed to tighten/reinforce the lower esophageal sphincter by wrapping part of the stomach around the lower end of the esophagus. This can ultimately relieve symptoms and reduce the potential for acid reflux.

The LINX® Reflux Management System

The LINX® Reflux Management System is an innovative treatment for GERD that does not involve reconstruction of the esophageal sphincter. This laparoscopic surgical procedure requires the implantation of the LINX® device, which is a flexible band composed of magnetic titanium beads, around the lower esophageal sphincter. The band is designed to enhance the resistance of the lower esophagus and prevent it from succumbing to gastric pressure and acidic contents while still allowing food into the stomach. The LINX® device should also not inhibit patients from belching or vomiting when necessary.

Hiatal Hernia Repair

A hiatal hernia is known to be a very common cause of acid reflux. This condition occurs when the stomach valve opening and the esophageal sphincter have migrated to a position above the diaphragm, leading to stomach acid leaking into the esophagus. Hiatal hernias can often be repaired simultaneously with the GERD surgery options noted above.

What Are the Symptoms of a Hiatal Hernia?

There are two distinct kinds of hiatal hernias: the sliding hiatal hernia and the paraesophageal hiatal hernia. The sliding hiatal hernia is much more common; however, the paraesophageal can produce more severe symptoms. With this in mind, it is important to note that some individuals may not experience any overt symptoms from a hiatal hernia at all. For those who do, some of the most common symptoms of a hiatal hernia include:

  • Acid reflux
  • Belching
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Difficulty swallowing
  • Regurgitation
  • Heartburn

A paraesophageal hiatal hernia may cause even more severe symptoms, including:

  • Occasional difficulty swallowing (often when eating solid foods)
  • A feeling of fullness that sets in earlier than usual
  • Abdominal pain
  • Chest pain
  • Shortness of breath
  • Bleeding in the abdomen—this may be indicated by black stools or blood in vomit
  • Anemia (blood loss)

Some cases of a paraesophageal hiatal hernia can create extreme pain and/or dangerous health conditions that may require emergency surgery.

It is important to pay attention to the symptoms of these types of hernias when they develop, and to understand that they may seem like other types of health problems. It is best to seek an evaluation from a qualified physician.

To learn more about GERD and hiatal hernia treatment options or other procedures available at our practice, or if you would like to schedule a consultation, please contact Dr. James Parrish today.