Successfully Treating GERD with Acid Reflux Surgery
Acid reflux, also known as gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD), is caused by the passage of acid from the stomach, through a weakened valve, into the esophagus. Symptoms of GERD, which may be worsened by bending over or lying down, include:
- Burning and discomfort in the chest or upper abdomen
- A sour or bitter taste in the mouth
- Chronic cough
Although many cases of GERD are successfully treated with medications and lifestyle changes, acid reflux surgery may be required to control the most severe or persistent cases.
What is acid reflux surgery?
Franciscan Health offers traditional and minimally invasive surgeries to treat acid reflux.
When you swallow, a muscular valve known as the lower esophageal sphincter (LES), located where the esophagus joins the stomach, opens to let food into your stomach and then closes to keep your stomach contents from coming back up. Acid reflux surgery involves your surgeon wrapping a portion of the upper stomach around the lower esophagus creating or repairing the valve that is malfunctioning and causing the reflux.
Hiatal hernia is a common cause of a weak LES. If a hiatal hernia is present, your surgeon will repair it at the same time.
Minimally Invasive Nissen Fundoplication
The most common operation done to treat acid reflux is the Nissen Fundoplication. This surgery strengthens the valve between the esophagus and stomach (lower esophageal sphincter), which keeps acid from backing up into the esophagus as easily.
The da Vinci® Nissen Fundoplication provides an alternative to traditional "open" or laparoscopic fundoplication surgery, in which a long, pencil-sized abdominal incision is made. Using the da Vinci® System, the surgeon makes a series of 1-2 cm incisions to introduce a specialized surgical camera and the surgical system's EndoWrist® instruments, helping your surgeon see vital anatomical structures more clearly and perform a more precise operation.
For most patients, da Vinci® Nissen Fundoplication offers numerous potential benefits over traditional open surgery, including:
- Shorter hospital stay
- Less pain and scarring
- Less risk of wound infections
- Less blood loss and fewer transfusions
- Faster recovery
- Quicker return to normal activities
- As with any surgery, these benefits are not guaranteed, as surgery is patient- and procedure-specific.