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Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease (GERD)

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Over 61 million Americans experience heartburn each month.

Most people can find relief for this very uncomfortable, burning sensation by taking over-the-counter medications, such as antacids. Others struggle daily with a severe type of heartburn called GERD, usually caused by a simple hiatal hernia.

When drug therapy has failed, a surgical procedure may be the best course of treatment for GERD.

Laparoscopic Surgery for Treating GERD

At UPMC, we use a minimally invasive surgical technique called laparoscopic Nissen fundoplication (LNF). This is the most common procedure for treating GERD.

During the LNF procedure, surgeons:

  • Use a narrow tube-like instrument — called a trocar — to act as a portal into the abdomen.
  • Insert a laparoscope, fitted with a tiny video camera, through the trocar. This magnifies the view of your internal organs on a television monitor.
  • Insert four additional portals to accommodate other surgical  instruments.
  • Wrapped the top of the stomach (the fundus) around the bottom of the esophagus. This repairs the valve at the end of the esophagus.

After the procedure, the medical team closes the tiny incisions using a couple of stitches or special surgical tape. Within a few weeks, the incisions are barely visible.

The surgeons at UPMC also perform the LINX® procedure for selected people with GERD. The LINX System is a number of miniature magnetic beads linked together, which works to prevent gastric reflux by supplementing the body’s natural anti-reflux barrier, the lower esophageal sphincter.

Your surgeon can discuss which approach is best for you.