Gastroesophageal reflux disease, more commonly known as GERD, is a significant problem for many Americans. The condition, which involves food and liquids passing back into the esophagus from the stomach, can cause discomfort and even serious complications in some patients. Fortunately, a new type of surgical procedure called the LINX system can help GERD victims for whom lifestyle changes and medications prove ineffective. Here is a closer look at this innovative option.
The LINX system uses a magnetic ring of titanium beads to ensure that food and liquid is not able to pass up into your esophagus once it has passed down to your lower digestive system. It does this by preventing your lower esophageal sphincter, or LES, a valve at the bottom of your esophagus, from relaxing too much. The ring is placed around the LES during a surgical procedure. The ring allows food and liquid to pass through the LES, but prevents the LES from becoming loose and allowing food and liquid back up.
The rings are implanted during a type of operation known as a laparoscopy. This involves the surgeon using a thin tube to position the ring around your LES. Having a laparoscopy offers several advantages over more traditional surgery. For instance, you will typically be able to have the LINX procedure done as an outpatient, which should save you money as compared to a stay in the hospital. This type of operation may also place less stress on your body, according to WebMD.
An important medical study, published in the New England Journal of Medicine, has shown that the LINX system shows great promise as a treatment for GERD. The study, which tested 100 patients, showed the the procedure improved the symptoms of GERD in the majority of those in the trial. Another benefit was many patients were able to reduce their reliance on drugs such proton pump inhibitors, which sometimes cause adverse reactions.
The LINX procedure, although a recent technique, is safe for GERD patients, according to the National Institutes of Health. No long-term complications from the implantation of the device have been seen. The organization also reports that side effects from the procedure are not a significant concern.
In some cases, GERD sufferers are able to keep their symptoms under control with a variety of non-surgical methods. But if your symptoms fail to respond to conventional treatments, the LINX system might provide you with relief. Contact your doctor for more information about LINX. It might be the option you are looking for.