Laparoscopic Anti-Reflux (GERD) Surgery
What is GERD?
Laparoscopic anti-reflux surgery is necessary when the patient is experiencing acute esophageal reflux. This is mostly when medical treatment does not solve the case. Gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD) is a condition which affects the lower part of the esophagus near the stomach. It affects the esophageal sphincter that connects the esophagus to the stomach such that food can easily move from the stomach back to the esophagus. Normally, lower esophageal sphincter opens up to allow food into the stomach and closes to prevent backflow of stomach contents to the esophagus. However, the disease weakens the sphincter muscle such that its valve system becomes ineffective, that is, it fails to close up as required once food gets in the stomach. Learn how laparoscopic anti-reflux surgery can cure GERD. Contact the best surgeon today!
Causes of GERD
Hiatal hernia is believed to weaken the lower esophageal sphincter leading to GERD. Hiatal hernia is a condition where the upper part if the stomach moves up to the chest through the diaphragm hiatus, a small opening in the diaphragm. Hiatal hernia is not a guarantee of having GERD; however, it may increase the chances of GERD.
Unhealthy diet can also cause GERD. Ingestion of certain foods such as chocolate, fries, and fatty foods, beverages such as coffee, and alcohol may increase the chances of reflux. Obesity and pregnancy are other possible causes.
What are the symptoms of GERD?
Heartburn is the most common symptom of GERD. It usually feels like a burning chest pain towards the mouth. This is because the acids from the stomach irritate the esophagus. It could also result in sour taste in the mouth. Many people complain of burning chest pains immediately after eating or lying down after eating. It is worthwhile noting that some people do confuse burning chest pain with heart disease. Heart disease is, however, associate more with physical activities and rest may relieve the pain as opposed to heartburn that has less to do with physical exercises. For assurance, it would be advisable to visit a physician for check-up.
GERD can also cause other respiratory complications such as asthma and chronic cough. Others include regurgitation of food and difficulty in swallowing.
Is GERD treatable?
The results of this condition could lead to a more serious disease if untreated. Due to the acid in the stomach, hydrochloric acid, the GERD condition could lead to esophagitis, which is inflammation or irritation of the esophagus due reflux of the stomach acid. Thankfully, gastroesophageal disease can be treated or avoided through various ways depending on the cause. These include the following:
- reducing the amount of food taken per meal
- taking medication to reduce the acid
- reducing weight in case of overweight
- taking antacids that neutralize the stomach acid
- avoiding lying down immediately after eating
- avoiding frequent consumption of beverages such as coffee and alcoholic drinks
In addition, cigarette smoking is said to contribute to the weakening of the LES; hence, abstaining from smoking may prevent the disease. Raising the head of the bed by 6 inch reduces reflux of the stomach contents.
How laparoscopic anti-reflux surgery helps
Laparoscopic anti-reflux surgery, also called fundoplication, is also a corrective mechanism for GERD. It involves an anti-reflux surgeon tightening the sphincter muscle by wrapping the region near the sphincter, to prevent the backflow of food enabling an effective valve system in this area.
Are you viable for the surgery?
Despite laparoscopic anti-reflux surgery being a corrective measure for GERD, not everyone can undergo the surgery. It is most appropriate for patients who have not had abdominal surgery before, those who have small hiatal hernias, and those who have used persistent medication without any success to relief of the symptoms of GERD. It would be advisable to visit a qualified laparoscopic anti-reflux surgeon with a Gastroenterologist to evaluate whether the patient is qualified to undergo the surgery. Why? This is to mainly prevent additional infections and problems due to conditions that a patient may be having.
Laparoscopic anti-reflux surgery process
There are two ways of conducting anti-reflux surgery. The anti-reflux surgery can involve use of tools such as a laparoscope, a special camera, where the surgeons operate from outside with minimal contact with the body. Small incisions are made in the abdomen which is inflated with carbon dioxide to separate the abdomen from the organs below. This gives room for the surgeon to work effectively. Due to some reasons such as the inability to view the organs effectively using the tools, obesity, among other reasons, the laparoscopic surgery method may be foregone. The alternative, hence, is the open method which involves the anti-reflux surgeon coming into direct contact with the body organs. An incision is induced from the sternum to the navel. Depending on the patient’s safety, the anti-reflux surgeon decides whether the laparoscopic or the open method will be used.
What happens before the surgery?
The anti-reflux surgeon will evaluate the patient to ascertain that he is viable for the surgery. This includes careful examination by the surgeon and series of tests that will confirm whether the patient is ready for the surgery.
They include blood test, chest x-ray, and an electrocardiogram depending on the health an age too. The surgeon will ask you about your condition and this will guide his judgment in giving you a consent for the surgery. On the night before surgery, consumption of anything other than the medication given by the surgeon and little amounts of water is prohibited. The patient can also meet his surgeon for any clarification needed regarding the surgery.
What happens after surgery?
The surgeon will for a short while recommend light liquid food then gradual change to heavier solid foods. The solid foods may be taken after two weeks of the surgery. After surgery, anti-reflux drugs are not required since the surgery is already meant to solve the problem.
In addition, the anti-reflux surgeon will encourage the patient to engage in light and simple activities to prevent straining of the wound for the period of time which he knows is appropriate. However, simple exercises such as walking after a few days may be encouraged. Depending on whether laparoscopic or open surgery was done, resumption of normal activities may take a number of weeks.
The surgeon will be available if any problem is experienced. This may include bleeding, too much pain and swelling, too much redness among others. The surgeon will be able to address your situation for the improvement of your health. He will also advice you on how to care for the incision.
The surgeon will recommend frequent appointments to check on how you are doing. It may involve some tests to check whether the conditions in your body are stable. A nurse will check your wound and inform you whether you are improving. The surgeon will the give you the way forward according to the condition of the wound.
Complications involved with anti-reflux surgery
After surgery, the patient may experience difficulty in swallowing food. This explains the reason why the surgeon advices on taking fluid foods. However, in some, this difficulty may persist. After consultation with the surgeon, an endoscopic widening of the sphincter muscle will be recommended. In some patients, belching becomes a difficulty and this could lead to stomach bloating and increase in flatulence. Other patients experience no change at all. The symptoms could still persist. This is, however, a rare case. The surgery, may at certain situations, need to be repeated if the patient still has difficulty in swallowing and also if the wrapping at the sphincter muscle has become too loose allowing reflux of acid.
Benefits of anti-reflux surgery
Most of the patients are healed and experience no more heartburns and their esophagus free of all the damage that had been formerly caused. The surgery also reduces reflux of bile which is believed to cause development of cancer in Barrett’s esophagus. Contact Dr. Arif Ahmad today and learn more about laparoscopic anti-reflux surgery.