Gastroesophageal reflux disease, or GERD, occurs when acid from the stomach backs up into the esophagus. Normally, food travels from the mouth, down through the esophagus and into the stomach. A ring of muscle at the bottom of the esophagus, the lower esophageal sphincter (LES), contracts to keep the acidic contents of the stomach from “refluxing” or coming back up into the esophagus. In those who have GERD, the LES does not close properly, allowing acid to move up the esophagus.
When stomach acid touches the sensitive tissue lining the esophagus, it causes a reaction similar to squirting lemon juice in your eye. This is why GERD is often characterized by the burning sensation known as heartburn.
Occasional heartburn is normal. However, if heartburn becomes chronic, occurring more than twice a week, you may have GERD. Left untreated, GERD can lead to more serious health problems.
Symptoms of GERD
The symptoms of GERD may include persistent heartburn, acid regurgitation, and nausea. Some people have GERD without heartburn. Instead, they experience pain in the chest that can be severe enough to mimic the pain of a heart attack, hoarseness in the morning, or trouble swallowing. Some people may also feel like they have food stuck in their throat or like they are choking. GERD can also cause a dry cough and bad breath.
TIF (Transoral Incisionless Fundoplication)
TIF is a surgical treatment for gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD). Performed in clinic, this minimally invasive procedure is performed from inside the patient’s stomach without incisions. This procedure is just as successful as other anti-reflux surgery procedures, but is less invasive, and doesn’t limit other treatment options. A patient may opt to have the TIF procedure performed if they are unhappy with the side effects from their current GERD medication, or are looking for another treatment option in general.
The LINX System is a small band of linked titanium beads with magnetic cores that is surgically placed around the esophagus, above the stomach. This procedure is performed laparoscopically. The interlinked beads have a magnetic attraction, which causes the LES to resist opening to stomach pressures, preventing reflux from the stomach into the esophagus. With the LINX system in place, swallowing temporarily breaks the magnetic bond, allowing food and liquid to pass normally into the stomach. Immediately after swallowing, the LES closes, restoring the body's natural barrier to reflux.