Surgery for Heartburn

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Heartburn or acid reflux is a significant problem for many people and can cause a substantial decrease in quality of life. A weakening of the valve at the top of the stomach or a hiatal hernia may lead to reflux of acid out of the stomach. Not every patient’s symptoms can be controlled with acid-reducing medications, and surgery may be indicated to correct the problem permanently.

Pre-operative planning typically involves evaluation by a gastroenterologist. Testing may include pH studies to measure the amount of acid in the esophagus, manometry to measure the function of the esophagus, swallow studies to evaluate for a hiatal hernia, and upper endoscopy (EGD) to assess for inflammation of the stomach and esophagus.

Acidic Reflux explained by Michael J. Sutker MD, PA

Anti-reflux surgery involves creating a new valve at the top of the stomach to prevent the reflux of acid into the esophagus. Your surgeon accomplishes this new valve by wrapping the excess portion of the stomach around itself in a technique called Nissen fundoplication. This surgery will allow food to pass through the esophagus in the stomach but prevent acids from going up. Patients will expect to get significant relief immediately, and most patients can stop their anti-reflux medication. This procedure can be performed using minimally invasive techniques, either with traditional laparoscopy or with DaVinci robotic assistance. Patients will expect to stay in the hospital 1-2 nights. Patients remain on a pureed or soft food diet for about 2-4 weeks to allow the inflammation from the surgery to subside. Once recovery is complete, you will be able to a normal diet without restriction.

Types of Hernias explained by Michael J. Sutker MD, PA

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