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Treatments for Mild and Moderate GERD Symptoms
The main symptom of GERD is acid reflux, caused by regurgitation of stomach contents and acid. This regurgitation causes feelings of painful burning and tightness in the chest. Chronic disease can lead to an increased risk of esophageal cancer, so getting treatment for GERD is important.
The first line of treatment for GERD is medication and dietary modification. Avoiding foods high in fat or sugar, as well as acidic foods, caffeine, and alcohol, can reduce the frequency of symptoms. Medications for GERD, such as H2 blockers and proton pump inhibitors help clear up symptoms by reducing the amount of acid produced in the stomach.
These measures don’t always successfully treat severe cases of GERD. When medication and dietary changes don’t help, there are certain surgical procedures which might be used to treat the disease.
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GERD Surgery Options for Severe Disease
These measures don’t always help treat severe cases of GERD. When medication and dietary changes don’t help, there are several GERD surgery options which might be used to treat the disease. When the surgery is successful, it can provide permanent relief.
The objective for surgery for GERD is to correct the lower esophageal sphincter weakness that is contributing to the disease. After a successful surgery, the muscle is strengthened, and the esophagus is able to heal.
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This procedure is the most often used surgery for GERD. In this procedure, the lower esophageal sphincter is tightened to prevent regurgitation of stomach contents. This is achieved by wrapping the top portion of the stomach around the lower part of the esophagus.
Nissen fundoplication can be carried out as a laparoscopic procedure or as open surgery, depending on the needs of the patient. In open surgery the surgeon makes a large incision in the abdomen to allow access to the stomach. In laparoscopic surgery the surgeon makes several very small incisions rather than one large one. Laparoscopic surgery is preferable in most cases because it is less invasive, and has a much shorter recovery time than open surgery.
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EndoCinch Endoluminal Gastroplication
In this procedure, a surgeon uses a tool that works in a similar fashion to a sewing machine. The surgeon uses this tool to insert stitches into the weakened lower esophageal sphincter to strengthen the muscle and prevent reflux of stomach contents.
This is a relatively new procedure, and one which might not be an option for a patient unless other GERD surgery options are not suitable.
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The Stretta System
This experimental surgical approach deliberately induces the formation of scar tissue in the esophagus. This is achieved by heating the tissue with electrode energy. As scar tissue forms, it provides the esophageal muscles with increased strength, helping these muscles keep the stomach closed, and preventing acid reflux.
Research on this procedure is ongoing, as it is not yet clear when this surgery is the best option over other approaches.
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National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases at the National Digestive Diseases Information Clearing House: Heartburn, Gastroesophageal Reflux (GER), and Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease (GERD)
Society of American Gastrointestinal and Endoscopic Surgeons: Patient Information for Laparoscopic Anti-Reflux Surgery
The Cleveland Clinic: GERD Surgery
The Mayo Clinic: Nissen Fundoplication