Most people experience acid reflux every now and then, but if it occurs more than twice a week and is persistent, a doctor may diagnose gastroesophageal reflux disease. GERD is a long-term condition in which acid from the stomach comes into the esophagus, causing painful heartburn and other symptoms and possible tissue damage.
Doctors often treat GERD with medications and suggest lifestyle changes to improve symptoms. If lifestyle changes and medications do not significantly improve the symptoms of GERD, a gastroenterologist may recommend reflux surgery.
Until a few years ago, there were only a few surgical treatment options, such as fundoplication or endoscopic procedures, such as endoscopic sewing. Then a new minimally invasive laparoscopic procedure designed explicitly for GERD surfaced using a device called the LINX® Reflux Management System.
Only a few doctors performed this cutting-edge reflux surgery using this unique device. In fact, our laparoendoscopic and gastrointestinal surgeon Dr. Trudie Goers here at The Surgical Clinic at TriStar Centennial Medical Center, made news as the first Tennessee surgeon to offer GERD treatment using the LINX® Reflux Management System (LINX® device)
Read on to learn more about what the LINX® device is and how it is being used to improve the lives of those suffering from GERD in Middle Tennessee.
WHAT IS THE LINX® REFLUX MANAGEMENT SYSTEM AND LINX® SURGERY?
LINX® is a registered trademark of Torax Medical, Inc. The LINX system is a revolutionary and minimally invasive treatment that helps control heartburn symptoms by keeping stomach acid away from your esophagus.
The system consists of a small, flexible band of magnetic titanium beads connected with titanium wires forming a ring shape. The surgeon makes a small incision about the size of a pencil eraser in the abdomen, and the device is surgically implanted around the lower esophagus, just above the stomach. This strengthens the esophagus and restricts the flow of stomach contents into the esophagus (reflux.)
The surgery is so effective in improving heartburn symptoms and reflux that most people with GERD no longer require medicines to treat these symptoms.
ABOUT TORAX® MEDICAL
Torax® Medical, Inc. is a privately held medical device company headquartered in St. Paul, Minnesota. The Magnetic Sphincter Augmentation (MSA) technology was specially developed for treating sphincter disorders.
Torax Medical is currently marketing both the LINX® Reflux Management System for treating GERD and its FENIX™ Continence Restoration System for treating Fecal Incontinence (FI) in Europe. For more information, please visit www.toraxmedical.com.
THE BENEFITS OF THE LINX® REFLUX MANAGEMENT SYSTEM
Instead of reflux surgery, many patients use medication to manage their GERD. However, most medication does not treat the underlying problem. Surgical management is the only way to stop the reflux from occurring altogether.
While other reflux surgeries, such as endoscopic procedures, are still used to treat GERD– because it is a minimally invasive option, the LINX® is becoming the preferred treatment for patients suffering from GERD.
There are multiple advantages of LINX® over other reflux surgeries, such as:
- LINX is minimally invasive: You will be under general anesthesia during the reflux surgery, but the surgery itself is considered minimally invasive. It only takes about 30 minutes to complete the procedure.
- LINX does not require a lengthy hospital stay: Patients generally go home on the same day as the reflux surgery or the next.
- LINX recovery is faster than other reflux surgery: LINX begins working immediately. Instead of waiting weeks, you can return to a normal diet as soon as the day after surgery.
- LINX does not change your anatomy or esophageal function: The LINX device is implanted around your esophagus and doesn’t require surgically altering your digestive system. It also doesn’t interfere with your ability to swallow food or liquids and doesn’t result in bloating by limiting the passage of air from your stomach.
- LINX is non-interfering and removable: If you and your doctor decide to go down a different treatment path in the future, the LINX device does not limit your options. If needed, it can be safely removed with an additional laparoscopic procedure.
“Gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD) is very common, and the LINX® Reflux Management System is a great device and great option for patients who are unable to manage their GERD with short-course antacid medications,” says Trudie Goers, MD, laparoendoscopic and gastrointestinal surgeon.
“Typically, these medications are not meant to be taken for long periods of time and can even have negative side effects. With the LINX procedure, patients are able to eat soft food right after surgery and get back to life and work the next week. It is exciting to introduce this innovative and game-changing procedure here in Tennessee.”
Using the LINX® surgical device, Dr. Goers can also provide patients with acid reflux surgery in Nashville, TN, in addition to GERD treatment.
WHO IS A CANDIDATE FOR LINX® REFLUX MANAGEMENT SYSTEM?
The LINX® device is used in GERD patients who continue to have heartburn and reflux, despite lifestyle changes and daily use of medicines such as proton pump inhibitors.
It is an excellent option for anyone that is considered a candidate for reflux surgery but wants a more non-invasive approach to GERD treatment.
IS THE LINX® REFLUX MANAGEMENT SYSTEM SAFE AND EFFECTIVE?
Considering this is a newer treatment option for GERD, we understand your concerns. However, you can rest assured that this reflux surgery is safe and proven to be effective. In fact, a LINX® device implant has fewer associated side effects than fundoplication operations.
A growing body of literature supports its safety, efficacy, and long-term durability. In a recently published 5-year follow-up of patients who had a LINX device implanted as a part of the FDA trial, no device erosions, migrations, or malfunctions were noted.
In this trial, control of GERD symptoms was excellent. According to the study, after treatment with LINX® :
- 85 percent of patients were free from dependence on daily reflux medication.
- 88 percent of patients reported that heartburn had been eliminated.
- 99 percent of patients eliminated regurgitation.
- Patients reported significant improvement in gassiness and bloating.
In the short time we’ve been using the LINX® device to treat GERD patients here at The Surgical Clinic, we have seen the same positive results!
Dr. Goers says she is impressed with what it has done to improve the quality of life in her patients, and over a year after performing that first groundbreaking surgery in Tennessee, says she remains committed to using the LINX® Reflux Management System as a tool to solve GERD symptoms for her patients.
“At TriStar Centennial, we are always looking to support our physicians in providing patients with the latest advancements in treatment options,” said Heather J. Rohan, President and CEO of TriStar Health. “We are especially proud to be the first in Tennessee to offer this revolutionary and life-altering solution to patients suffering from the effects of severe acid reflux,” says Dr. Goers.
LEFT UNTREATED, WHAT PROBLEMS DOES GERD CAUSE?
The American College of Gastroenterology says that 1 in 5 people living in the United States experiences heartburn every day. Torax® Medical, Inc., the makers of the LINX® Reflux Management System, reports that approximately seven million people in the United States have some symptoms of GERD.
This condition develops due to a weak lower esophageal sphincter that allows harmful gastric fluid to reflux into the esophagus. Symptoms of GERD include heartburn, regurgitation, cough, and chest pain.
Acid suppression drugs, such as Prevacid®, Nexium®, and Prilosec®, affect gastric acid production and can help manage GERD symptoms but do not repair the sphincter defect. As a result, these drugs will not prevent further acid reflux symptoms.
In addition, new studies have shown dangers of using acid-suppression drugs over time. As a result, people with GERD must take extra care of their diet and make other lifestyle changes to better manage GERD symptoms.
Left untreated or improperly managed, GERD can progress to a precancerous condition known as Barrett’s esophagus. As GERD progresses, the acid can damage teeth and sinuses and can even lead to esophageal cancer.
HOW LONG CAN GERD SYMPTOMS LAST?
Heartburn can cause burning, pressure, or pain lasting up to 2 hours. It’s usually harsher after a meal. Heartburn can also be caused by lying down or bending over. Many people find that standing upright or taking an antacid that clears acid from the esophagus helps them feel better.
SCHEDULE YOUR LINX® CONSULT IN MIDDLE TENNESSEE
It is important that you choose a surgeon that has been trained and has experience using the LINX® device. We are proud to be the first in Tennessee to offer this revolutionary, non-invasive, life-altering solution to patients suffering from GERD.
Contact us if you would like to learn more about the LINX® device and whether this treatment might be right for you. We’d be happy to answer any questions that you have.
Additionally, if you would like to learn more about other gastrointestinal surgery options, you can visit our blog archives from May 2017 for more information.