What is Reflux Surgery (GERD Surgery) and How is it Performed?
GERD surgery, also called reflux procedure, is a minimally invasive operation to tighten the junction between the stomach and the esophagus to stop the unwanted reverse movement of stomach juices. The gold standard for surgical treatment is named Nissen fundoplication. In this procedure, the surgeon tightens the lower esophagus by wrapping the top of stomach around it. This way, lower sphincter is mechanically supported to do what it is intended to: keeping the acidic juices in the stomach. The operation takes about an hour and success rate is 95%.
What is Reflux? How Common is it?
Affecting some 20% of the world in different levels, reflux disease (GERD – GastroEsophageal Reflux Disease) is one of the most common complaints in the world. It is the escaping of stomach acid or liquid up / backwards into the esophagus that shows itself with heartburn, sour taste in mouth, hiccups and even bad breath. If left untreated, it can cause intense cough, hoarseness, sore throat and tooth decay.
What Causes Reflux?
The disease occurs due to the contact of the esophagus with the acidic contents of the stomach for a long time. Everyone can face heartburn with the reverse movement of stomach fluids at some point in life but it is observed that those with bad eating habits are more likely to turn this occasional thing into a severe case. Frequent acid exposure causes deterioration of the valve-like structure located under the esophagus.
How is Reflux Diagnosed?
The first diagnosis for reflux is the appearance of symptoms mentioned above. Then, your doctor will probably perform endoscopic imaging, gastroscopy, evaluation with pH meter, radiographs or manometric measurements to come to a certain diagnosis.
How is Reflux Treated?
When it first shows up, the initial step must be seeing a doctor and you will probably be prescribed some medication and get some medical advice. A well balanced reflux diet with good eating habits and proper physical exercise will have great results but keep in mind that not all exercises are good. Heavy ones and those that force your abdomen to crunch will worsen the situation.
What Are Possible Side Effects of Reflux Surgery?
The most important complication after reflux surgery is temporary swallowing difficulty (post-surgery dysphagia). Although it often regresses in the early postoperative period like 1 week, it may extend up to 6 months.
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