Am I A Candidate for GERD Surgery?
So who is a good candidate for anti-reflux surgery, whether it’s the LINX operation or a Nissen fundoplication. So the vast majority of patients who have GERD or heartburn gastroesophageal reflux disease do okay with:
- Lifestyle changes
- Watching their diet
- Not wearing clothing that’s too tight
- Losing weight if necessary
- Not eating too close to going to bed
- Laying down on two or three pillows when they do go to sleep
- Antacids whether they’re h2 blockers or proton pump inhibitors
Now in recent news, there have been a lot of stories about side effects that come with proton pump inhibitors. And many patients do have concerns about these and other patients can’t tolerate them at all. But there are a subset of patients who are surgical candidates.
So if you have GERD or heartburn or reflux and you go to your physician, they do a diagnostic study like esophageal gastroduodenoscopy – that’s a camera scope that goes into your esophagus – and they see severe enough complications from GERD you may be a candidate for surgery. They may also do a study called a pH study. PH as you may know, is a measure of acidity. They measure the acidity in your lower esophagus in various scenarios over a 24-48 hour period. If you hit a certain threshold then, objectively, you may be a candidate for surgery. Meaning, if you only do medical treatment, you may not get the relief that you would get if you did an operation to prevent this reflux. So we use a number of objective studies to determine this.
But we also use our clinical judgment. So if you’re a patient who has been taking proton pump inhibitors and you have doubled up on them, you’ve taken multiple different medications and you still get heartburn, you still get GERD, despite doing these for two or three months or longer, then you are probably a candidate for anti-reflux surgery. Anti-reflux surgery, when in the right hands, can be performed safely and has a very good success profile and a high safety profile.