Patient Information for Laparoscopic Anti-Reflux (GERD) Surgery from SAGES

Surgery for GERD (“Heartburn”)

If you suffer from “heartburn” your surgeon may have recommended Laparoscopic Anti-Reflux Surgery to treat this condition, technically referred to as gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD). This brochure will explain to you:

  1. What gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD) is
  2. Medical and surgical treatment options for GERD
  3. How GERD surgery is performed
  4. Expected outcomes of GERD surgery
  5. What to expect if you choose to have laparoscopic anti-reflux surgery

What Is Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease (GERD)?

Although “heartburn” is often used to describe a variety of digestive problems, in medical terms, it is actually a symptom of gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD). In this condition, stomach acids reflux or “back up” from the stomach into the esophagus. Heartburn is described as a harsh, burning sensation in the area in between your ribs or just below your neck. The feeling may radiate through the chest and into the throat and neck. Many adults in the United States experience this uncomfortable, burning sensation at least once a month. Other symptoms may also include vomiting, difficulty swallowing and chronic coughing or wheezing.

What Causes GERD?

When you eat, food travels from your mouth to your stomach through a tube called the esophagus. At the lower end of the esophagus is a small ring of muscle called the lower esophageal sphincter (LES). The LES acts like a one-way valve, allowing food to pass through into the stomach. Normally, the LES closes immediately after swallowing to prevent back-up of stomach juices, which have a high acid content, into the esophagus. GERD occurs when the LES does not function properly allowing acid to flow back and burn the lower esophagus. This irritates and inflames the esophagus, causing heartburn and eventually may damage the esophagus.

What Contributes to GERD?

Some people are born with a naturally weak sphincter (LES). For others, however, fatty and spicy foods, certain types of medication, tight clothing, smoking, drinking alcohol, vigorous exercise or changes in body position (bending over or lying down) may cause the LES to relax, causing reflux. A hiatal hernia (a common term for GERD) may be present in many patients who suffer from GERD, but may not cause symptoms of heartburn.

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Brought to you by:

SOCIETY OF AMERICAN GASTROINTESTINAL ENDOSCOPIC SURGEONS (SAGES)
11300 West Olympic Blvd., Suite 600
Los Angeles, CA 90064
Tel:
(310) 437-0544
Fax:
(310) 437-0585
E-Mail:
publications@sages.org
This brochure is intended to provide a general overview of a surgery. It is not intended to serve as a substitute for professional medical care or a discussion between you and your surgeon about the need for a surgery. Specific recommendations may vary among health care professionals. If you have a question about your need for a surgery, your alternatives, billing or insurance coverage, or your surgeons training and experience, do not hesitate to ask your surgeon or his/her office staff about it. If you have questions about the operation or subsequent follow up, discuss them with your surgeon before or after the operation.