A recent Gallup Survey reports that 40 percent of all Americans suffer from some sort of burning feeling in the chest or throat, otherwise known as heartburn, at least once a month. These individuals suffer from chronic heartburn or what is known as gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD). While over-the-counter antacids and prescription medications may provide adequate relief of symptoms for occasional to moderate heartburn sufferers, there are more than million people in this country for whom no amount of medication will provide relief.

What is GERD?

GERD occurs when the muscles surrounding the valve between the esophagus and the stomach becomes weak and allows acid from the stomach to leak upward into the esophagus.

When weakened, this valve can allow stomach acid and food to surge upwards into the esophagus, causing painful heartburn and indigestion. Symptoms of the condition may include a burning sensation in the chest or abdomen, indigestion, regurgitation, difficulty sleeping after eating, hoarseness or sore throat.

If left untreated, reflux may lead to respiratory problems, ulceration of the esophagus or even esophageal cancer.

Treatment Options

Chronic GERD symptoms can be alleviated with a number of minimally invasive procedures, including:

Endocinch

The EndoCinch System™, like a tiny sewing machine, is attached to the end of a standard, flexible endoscope or tube. It allows the physician to create pleats in the soft tissue of the esophagus and stomach (called the lower esophageal sphincter or LES) that prevent acid from flowing out of the stomach and into the esophagus. EndoCinch does not require an incision and is performed on an outpatient basis. 

Videoscopic Surgery

Using surgical instuments inserted through five small incisions in the abdomen and guided by images from within the body, surgeons wrap a portion of the stomach around the lower esophageal sphincter to prevent the flow of acid into the esophagus.

The minimally-invasive procedure is less traumatic than traditional surgery. In most cases, videoscopic surgery reduces scarring and shortens hospital stays and recovery time. 

Robotic Surgery 

A Belsey Mark IV Fundoplication can be performed laparoscopically using the daVinci Robot and is associated with good reflux control and fewer issues with swallowing.