LiveSmart: Minimally Invasive LINX Procedure Offers Relief from Reflux

[This piece was written by Dennis Rassias, M.D., Chief of Thoracic Surgery at St. Peter’s Hospital, and a physician with Albany Thoracic and Esophageal Surgery.]

For many people, heartburn is an occasional nuisance. A rare overindulgence – like at Thanksgiving dinner – can trigger a case of acid reflux, leaving them feeling uncomfortable and bloated. But it is a temporary discomfort, likely to resolve on its own by the time all the dishes are washed and put away.

But for more than three million Americans, the discomfort from heartburn becomes so frequent that it affects their quality of life. For these individuals, gastroesophageal reflux disease, or GERD, is the likely cause.

GERD happens when there is a weakness in the lower esophageal sphincter, or LES, causing stomach acid to travel up the esophagus. Not only is it painful, if left untreated, can cause serious complications including Barrett’s esophagus and possibly cancer.

For those individuals, there is a new drug-free, minimally invasive solution to their GERD called LINX.

Approved by the FDA in 2011, the LINX procedure is a surgical treatment for GERD. It is a small, ring-shaped device about the size of a quarter, made of permanent magnets surrounded by titanium beads.

The ring is implanted through a minimally invasive laparoscopic/robotic procedure around the weakened lower esophageal valve where it connects to the stomach. This stops acid from entering the esophagus easily, and increases the pressure of the lower esophageal sphincter.

LINX is intended for patients diagnosed with GERD who continue to have symptoms even while taking medication. There is no alteration of the stomach necessary, and most patients who undergo the surgery are able to go home the same day as their procedure and quickly resume a normal diet. Typical physical activity can be resumed quickly, usually within a few days.

Additionally, LINX is designed to preserve the ability to belch or vomit if necessary. It is designed to last for the lifetime of the patient, but the LINX procedure is completely reversible, should the need arise for other treatment options.

Patients interested in undergoing the LINX procedure must first meet certain criteria as determined by their physician. These include:

  • Positive 24 hour ph test to determine the presence and severity of GERD
  • Near normal esophageal motility, or functioning of the esophagus
  • Body mass index (BMI) under 35
  • Barium swallow and endoscopy showing no cancer

Albany Thoracic and Esophageal Surgery, a member of St. Peter’s Health Partners Medical Associates, is proud to offer the LINX procedure at St. Peter’s Hospital. In addition to LINX, our highly trained and skilled surgeons care for patients with a vast array of procedures for benign diseases of the chest, as well as cancer of the lung and esophagus.

Albany Thoracic and Esophageal Surgery is located on the St. Peter’s Hospital campus at 319 South Manning Boulevard, Suite 206 in Albany. For more information on LINX, contact them at 518-525-8501.

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