Surgery of Heartburn

Heartburn or acid reflux is a significant problem for many people and can cause a significant decrease in your quality of life.  Reflux may be caused be weakening of the valve at the top of the stomach or from a hiatal hernia.  Not every patient’s symptoms can be controlled with acid reducing medications, and surgery may be indicated to permanently correct the problem.

Pre-operative planning typically involves evaluation by a gastroenterologist.  Testing may include pH studies to measure the amount of acid in the esophagus, manometry to measure the function of the esophagus, swallow studies to evaluate for a hiatal hernia, and an upper endoscopy (EGD) to evaluate for inflammation of the stomach and esophagus.

Anti-reflux surgery involves creating a new valve at the top of the stomach to prevent the reflux of acid into the esophagus.  This is accomplished by wrapping the excess portion of the stomach around itself (Nissen fundoplication).  This will allow food to pass through the esophagus in the stomach, but prevent acids from going up.  Patients will expect to get significant relief immediately, and most patients are able to stop their anti-reflux medication.  This procedure can be performed using minimally invasive techniques, either laparoscopically or using the daVinci robot.  Patients will expect to stay in the hospital 1-2 nights.  Patients stay on a pureed or soft food diet for about 2-4 weeks to allow the inflammation from the surgery to subside.  Once recovery is complete, you will be able to a normal diet without restriction.

Reflux may be caused be weakening of the valve at the top of the stomach or from a hiatal hernia.