Surgery for gastric reflux disease is an option when medicine and lifestyle changes do not work. Surgery may also be a reasonable alternative to a lifetime of drugs and discomfort.
Fundoplication, usually a specific variation called Nissen fundoplication, is the standard surgical treatment for gastro-oesophageal reflux (GERD). The upper part of the stomach is wrapped around the LES to strengthen the sphincter and prevent acid reflux and to repair a hiatal hernia.
This fundoplication procedure may be done using a laparoscope and requires only tiny incisions in the abdomen. To perform the fundoplication, surgeons use small instruments that hold a tiny camera.
Laparoscopic fundoplication has been used safely and effectively in people of all ages, even babies. When performed by experienced surgeons, the procedure is reported to be as good as standard fundoplication. Furthermore, people can leave the hospital in 1 to 3 days and return to work in 2 to 3 weeks.
In 2000, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved two endoscopic devices to treat chronic heartburn:
- The Bard EndoCinch system puts stitches in the LES to create little pleats that help strengthen the muscle.
- The Stretta system uses electrodes to create tiny cuts on the LES. When the cuts heal, the scar tissue helps toughen the muscle.
The long-term effects of these two procedures are unknown.