When should you consider acid reflux surgery?
Surgery is not the first course of action if you are suffering from acid reflux. This condition is common enough that almost everybody experiences acid reflux once in a while. This condition can range from occasional and mild to severe and chronic. There are only a very few people who are fitting candidates for acid reflux surgery, in most cases, prescribed medications are safer and just as effective.
Options for Acid Reflux Surgery
Fundoplication is the traditional surgical procedure performed for severe acid reflux. Aside from this though, there are three other operations which are often carried out which are: Esophageal, Laparoscopic and Radiofrequency procedures.
With a fundoplication operation, the upper part of the stomach is wrapped around the lower part of the esophagus and then it is secured tightly under the diaphragm. This procedure strengthens the lower esophageal sphincter or LES that allows the passage of food and liquid into the stomach. The doorway to the stomach is fashioned with a flap valve. As the stomach fills with contents, the strength of the wraps also increases. Basically, a fundoplication procedure is performed to strengthen LES pressure and prevent acid reflux. This procedure also aims to repair any hiatus hernia that may already be present.
The lasting benefits of these acid reflux surgery procedures are generally very comparable. Studies show that more than 90% of patients are free of acid reflux, heartburn and GERD for approximately 5 years after the operations.
Do You Need Acid Reflux Surgery?
Out of the millions of people suffering from acid reflux on a regular basis, only a select few are need of surgery. If you want to find out if you are a likely candidate, here are the qualifications:
- You cannot live without your medication. If you have to take very high dosage of Proton pump inhibitors or PPIs twice a day, then your acid reflux problem may be too bad you require a surgery.
- Your symptoms are not responding to a high-dose regimen.
- You have large volume reflux, i.e. regurgitation. The food stays in your stomach for several hours after eating.
- You have complications of gastroesophageal reflux disease or GERD. GERD complications have two categories; esophageal or acid-related strictures and Barrett’s esophagus and bronchial where you inhale the regurgitated food due to asthma and aspiration pneumonia. If medications are not helping, surgery might be an option.
Acid reflux surgery takes a little more than an hour if the patient does not have hiatal hernia that needs fixing. People of all ages are eligible for surgery. Some patients who have undergone surgery for their acid reflux problem experience nausea as a result of the manipulation of the stomach however after the procedure, most patients don’t need further medication. There are a few risks to this type of surgery, just like any other procedure which include:
- A small chance of bleeding (where transfusion may be necessary).
- Esophageal injury – happens to about one in one thousand patients.
- Difficulty in swallowing which will normalize over time.
- Some risks involving anesthesia.
These risks are few and far between though and often worth taking if a surgical procedure is the last resort to getting relief from annoying and painful acid reflux symptoms.