Surgery for Acid Reflux Disease – When Is It Recommended?

Surgery for Acid Reflux

Acid reflux refers to the dysfunction of the circular muscle at the entrance to the stomach that functions as an opening and closing valve. In people not experiencing reflux, this valve remains shut except when food is passing through it. In people with acid reflux disease however, this valve can remain open for longer periods of time or not close all the way once food has passed through. Stomach acid can move through the open valve into the esophagus, which can create unpleasant symptoms. When this happens occasionally, it is referred to as acid reflux. Chronic occurrences (more than twice weekly) are often referred to as gastroesophageal reflux disease. Treatment varies depending on the severity and recurrence of the condition with everything from natural healing options and over the counter remedies to surgery for acid reflux in some cases being employed for treatment.

Many people who have acid reflux disease (also known as GERD) may mistake the condition merely for chronic indigestion. Because many of the symptoms of indigestion and acid reflux are similar, it is not uncommon for chronic cases of GERD to be shrugged off for long periods of time or be dismissed as chronic indigestion. However, long lasting indigestion symptoms are often a sign of acid reflux disease, and should be evaluated by a medical provider.

Over the counter medicine is normally the first line of acid reflux treatment for non chronic cases in the form of various types of antacids. Alka Seltzer, Tums, Milk of Magnesia and Pepto Bismol are some over the counter preparations used for this purpose. However, prescription medications normally come into play for chronic forms of the condition. Occasional symptoms may also be deterred by removing some of the triggers of the condition such as eating certain foods like those that are hot and spicy as well as enjoying bedtime snacks and smoking.

When conventional treatment methods fail, it is not uncommon for surgery for acid reflux to be considered. However, this is always a last and final approach to treatment following medications, lifestyle changes and other treatment options if they have proven ineffective. Acid reflux surgery is known as Nissen Fundoplication Surgery, a surgical procedure that is useful for both gastroesophageal disease as well as hiatus hernia. The procedure involves wrapping the upper part of the stomach around the lower part of the esophagus and then securing it into place with stitches. This is effective for providing relief to acid reflux disease sufferers because the esophagus becomes closed off then the stomach contracts, which prevents stomach acids from entering it. Surgery for acid reflux, in addition to being a final treatment options when conventional methods have failed, is also useful in people who are unable to take medicines to treat their symptoms. And, those with a hiatal hernia condition also often benefit from the surgery.

The procedure is only recommended to those that have a clear and total understanding of the risks involved with the surgery. While many people who have undergone surgery for acid reflux remain symptom free even a decade after, there are some potential pitfalls that can occur as a result of the operation. It’s normally considered a safe and effective procedure, especially since it can now be done laparoscopically, however complications do occur. Recipients of Nissen Fundoplication may lose the ability to vomit entirely or it may become incredibly difficult. This may not seem like a problem, however can be considered an undesirable outcome. “Gas Bloat Syndrome” can also occur, where uncomfortable gassy stomach bloating sensations can persist in fundoplication patients. Most of the time, this adverse effect dissipates on its own over time, but persistent cases may require an additional surgery to correct it.

Because of medical advancements, surgery for acid reflux is less invasive than it once was. Thusly, it has become a more practical option for many sufferers of acid reflux disease, especially those whose conditions are not well managed with medications or who are unable or unwilling to commit to regular medicinal regimens. There are some adverse outcomes to the surgery in some cases, and those considering it will need to weight the potential benefits to the potential benefits in order to determine if surgical repairs for reflux disease are a practical solution. Many people who undergo surgery for acid reflux live symptom free for many years, making it something worth discussing with a health care provider if the symptoms of the condition are not well managed or persistently unpleasant.

References:
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nissen_fundoplication
http://www.webmd.com/heartburn-gerd/fundoplication-surgery-for-gastroesophageal-reflux-disease-gerd
http://www.drugs.com/cg/chronic-indigestion.html

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