Individuals suffering from gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD) typically take medication that helps to treat symptoms of the disease. But surgery is required to actually repair the defect that causes GERD.
What Is GERD?
GERD, which results from frequent acid reflux, is caused by a weak muscle in the esophagus called the lower esophageal sphincter (LES). When that muscle relaxes abnormally, it allows acid and bile from the stomach to flow back into the esophagus. The acid and bile can injure the lining of the esophagus and create symptoms including heartburn, chest pain, regurgitation, sore throat and cough.
GERD at a Glance
- GERD requires a surgical procedure to remedy the defect. Medications are designed to control or suppress acid production in the stomach. They do not address the root cause of GERD, a weak sphincter muscle, and they can't prevent reflux. Approximately 40 percent of GERD patients continue to have symptoms while taking medications.
- One in five U.S. adults suffer from GERD.
- GERD can lead to serious complications including Barrett's esophagus, a pre-cancerous condition. Esophageal cancer, while relatively uncommon, is one of the fastest growing cancers in this country.
- GERD can cause chronic pain, lead to poor sleep, affect food tolerance and limit daily activities.
- The cost of GERD to U.S. employers has been estimated at $75 billion per year.
Because GERD is a caused by a mechanical defect, it requires a mechanical solution.The LINX system is designed to stop reflux at its source. LINX is a small, flexible band of magnets enclosed in titanium beads. Those beads are connected by titanium wires. The device is implanted laparoscopically around the outside of the esophageal sphincter during a minimally invasive procedure that typically takes less than one hour. Patients generally go home within one day.
An Alternative to Existing Treatments
Medications for GERD attempt to control or suppress acid production in the stomach, but they don't address the cause of GERD, a weak sphincter muscle, to prevent reflux. Roughly 40 percent of people suffering from GERD continue to have symptoms while taking medications.
The LINX procedure might be appropriate for you if you’ve been diagnosed with GERD and if you continue to have chronic symptoms despite medications.