If you are experiencing reflux symptoms regularly, you probably have GORD. It’s important not to ignore these symptoms or you risk more severe health problems.
What is reflux?
If you often have heartburn and indigestion there’s a strong chance you suffer from reflux. The medical name for this is gastro-oesophageal reflux disease (GORD). It as caused by the movement of acidic fluid from you stomach up into the oesophagus. When that happens the acidic fluid cause heartburn. Sometimes reflux can leave an unpleasant, bitter taste in your mouth.
One of the biggest causes of reflux is a hiatus hernia. This condition is due to a widening of the muscular ring in the diaphragm causing the stomach to herniate upward into the chest.
There are drugs that treat reflux. The best known of these are proton pump inhibitors (PPIs).
However, in some cases surgery is the best option. These include:
- If prescribed drugs don’t work and symptoms continue
- If your symptoms are severe
- If you regurgitate fluid and/or food
- If you are concerned about long-term or even life-long use of medication
"It’s common to have occasional heartburn. But if you are experiencing reflux symptoms regularly, you probably have GORD. It’s important not to ignore these symptoms or you risk more severe health problems. These include oesophageal inflammation or ulcers and bleeding or scarring of the oesophagus."
What is anti-reflux surgery?
"We start by making five small incisions in your abdomen and insert a small telescope and surgical instruments. We then wrap the upper portion of your stomach around the area between your oesophagus and stomach. This strengthens the valve mechanism preventing reflux. The advantage of this method is it means a short hospital stay, usually just 2 to 3 days. There’s also less pain, fewer scars and shorter recovery time."
The pros and cons of anti-reflux surgery?
There are many advantages to laparoscopic fundoplication. These include:
- Improvements to the way the gastro-oesophageal junction functions. With surgery, you will no longer have stomach contents refluxing into the oesophagus. Medications don’t stop this from happening.
- Fundoplication successfully stops reflux in 85-90% of patients.
- Most patients can stop taking their acid lowering medication after surgery.
- Surgery is more cost-effective than many years of medication.
"A small number of patients do experience issues. Some have difficulty swallowing if the stomach wrap is too tight for a specific individual or the oesophageal contraction strength is too weak to overcome a standard wrap. In some patients, we recommend the oesophagus is tested, a process called manometry. If there are poor swallowing pressures, fundoplication may be avoided or the degree of fundoplication reduced.
Sometimes surgery can lead to bloating and flatulence. If you have irritable bowel syndrome or a motility disorder, fundoplication may not be the right procedure for you. Studies and our experience have found that these side effects can be minimised by performing a partial wrap. "
The Upper GI West approach to surgery
Upper GI West brings together a team including Perth’s most experienced Upper Gastrointestinal Surgeons. Our team works together to ensure you receive personalised care – before, during and after surgery.
We build on decades of experience performing the most complex, as well as routine operations.
We collaborate so our experiences keep improving our clinical outcomes. And we are committed to ensuring our patients benefit from the most recent data and techniques.
Speak to our friendly team to learn how we can help you successfully and permanently deal with reflux.