The most common procedure used to treat GERD, Nissen fundoplication reconstructs the area of the Lower Esophageal Sphincter (LES) to prevent acid from washing into the esophagus. This is in contrast to medical therapy which alters the fluid that washes into the esophagus making the fluid less injurious to the esophagus.
Using a scope that is inserted through a small (~1/2 inch) incision, and four additional incisions (one 1/2 inch and three 1/4 inch), the Gastroesophageal Junction is reconstructed to create a barrier preventing stomach acid from refluxing into the esophagus.
If a hiatal hernia is present, this is repaired with sutures. The top part of the stomach (called the fundus) is wrapped around the esophagus. The wrap is formed around a specific sized dilator placed into the esophagus to assure that the wrap is not too tight. Using this technique (sized floppy wrap), the number of patients with long term difficulty swallowing or bloating has decreased drastically over earlier techniques. The wrap is sutured in place completing the operation. The procedure typically lasts about one hour.
In properly selected patients, the surgery is successful in improving or eliminating heartburn and regurgitation in greater than 90% of patients.
Patients notice improvement in direct symptoms such as heartburn and regurgitation immediately after surgery. Indirect symptoms such as asthma, hoarseness, dysphagia, cough, globus, and esophageal spasm often take weeks to months to improve. These symptoms are not as reliably improved after surgery as the direct symptoms of GERD. Indirect symptoms also do not respond as well to medical treatment.
In most patients this result is durable and lasting with multiple studies showing a high degree of patient satisfaction many years after the procedure. Recently some have questioned the long term success of anti-reflux surgery. A recent article published in Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) reported that 62% of a group of VA patients who underwent open surgery ten years ago took anti-secretory medications. This study is often quoted to argue against the use of anti-reflux surgery. When this study is closely evaluated the following points are telling:
Failure to completely resolve symptoms:variable depending on symptoms
Dysphagia (Difficulty swallowing): ~ 2%
Gas bloat syndrome: ~ 2%
Conversion to open procedure: ~ 1%
Injury to nearby structures: ~ 1%
Bleeding and pneumothorax: rare
Fundoplication has been done as an open surgery (through a ~10 inch incision) for almost 50 years. Over this long period of time this procedure, when performed by surgeons with extensive experience with the procedure, has proven to be a highly successful durable treatment for GERD. In the last 10 years the application of minimally invasive techniques has allowed this procedure to be done with a significantly shorter hospitalization, less pain, and quicker recovery. Dr. Fusco also feels that the quality of the procedures performed has improved for two reasons. Firstly in most situations the view of the operative area is better laparoscopically. Secondly, since fewer surgeons have been trained to perform these advanced laparoscopic techniques, the net effect is that there is a concentration of a greater amount of experience with the procedure in the fewer surgeons who have dedicated themselves to the treatment of GERD.
Dr. Fusco also offers the Esophyx procedure to treat acid reflux. The Esophyx procedure is a natural orifice (NOTES) procedure where the lower esophageal sphincter is reconstructed using an endoscope and NO INCISIONS.
Not meant as a substitute for consultation with your doctor. Please read the disclaimer. Copyright 2002 to 2011 Mark Fusco All rights reserved