Gastroenterology Videos Jul 7, 2018

Outpatient Surgery Study Shows Promise for Patients with Heartburn

New device may help up to 90% of patients taking heartburn medication

Reviewed by: F. P. “Tripp” Buckley III, MD, FACS
Written by: Rocky Epstein

Millions of adults suffer from some sort of Acid reflux or heartburn every day, left untreated acid reflux can lead to one of the fastest growing cancers in the country - esophageal cancer. Most people treat heartburn or acid reflux with medication they take up to twice a day, every day. A recent study co-authored by a UT Health Austin surgeon is showing that one device is helping up to 90% of patients on medications get relief.

F.P. “Tripp” Buckley, MD, FACS, with UT Health Austin’s Heartburn and Esophageal Disorders clinical practice within Digestive Health, the clinical partnership between UT Health Austin and Ascension Seton, says that 60 million people suffer from GERD (gastrointestinal reflux disease), acid reflux or heartburn twice a day affecting their quality of life. The treatment for most includes taking medications like Nexium or Prilosec, however 30-40% of those patients will have symptoms even while taking medication. And some, will take those prescriptions up to twice a day. The study looks at an outpatient surgical procedure to see if we can help those patients.

Why don’t some patients get relief from medications?

The reason some patients may not experience relief with medication is that fundamentally, GERD, reflux and heartburn are the result of a sphincter malformation at the lower esophageal junction where the esophagus meets the stomach. You have stomach acid flowing up into the esophagus and no amount of medication will stop active reflux. Medications may tamp down the symptoms of heartburn by taking away the acid, but do not stop the actual disease process. So patients are left taking medications, switching prescriptions and dealing with side effects.

What did the study reveal?

During the study, researchers looked at patients who were experiencing symptoms on medications and that were having take them twice a day. Of those patients versus a surgical procedure, they posed the question, “which was the better treatment”? What researchers found was that an outpatient surgery using the LINX device stopped the symptoms and reduced the acid in 90% of those patients versus 10% who were on medications only.

The device surgeons used is surgically placed at the junction of the esophagus and stomach. It goes around the esophagus and opens and closes acting as a true replacement for the malfunctioning sphincter. When a patient eats the device opens to allow food to pass through to the stomach, but when it closes, acid remains in the stomach and does not enter the esophagus.

Dr. Buckley hopes that future studies will prove that this device will do enough to stop the progression of disease before it becomes Barrett’s Esophagus and Esophageal Cancer.

To schedule an appointment with the the Heartburn and Esophageal Disorders, visit here or call 1-844-GI-AUSTIN (1-844-442-8784).

For more about information about additional services offered in Digestive Health, visit here or call 1-844-GI-AUSTIN (1-844-442-8784).

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About the Partnership Between UT Health Austin and Ascension Seton

The collaboration between UT Health Austin and Ascension brings together medical professionals, medical school learners, and researchers who are all part of the integrated mission of transforming healthcare delivery and redesigning the academic health environment to better serve society. This collaboration allows highly specialized providers who are at the forefront of the latest research, diagnostic, and technological developments to build an integrated system of care that is a collaborative resource for clinicians and their patients.

About UT Health Austin

UT Health Austin is the clinical practice of the Dell Medical School at The University of Texas at Austin. We collaborate with our colleagues at the Dell Medical School and The University of Texas at Austin to utilize the latest research, diagnostic, and treatment techniques, allowing us to provide patients with an unparalleled quality of care. Our experienced healthcare professionals deliver personalized, whole-person care of uncompromising quality and treat each patient as an individual with unique circumstances, priorities, and beliefs. Working directly with you, your care team creates an individualized care plan to help you reach the goals that matter most to you — in the care room and beyond. For more information, call us at 1-833-UT-CARES or request an appointment here.