London, Nov 9 : A new research has suggested that people with persistent heartburn should be considered for early surgery to prevent a lifetime of popping pills.
The surgery involves wrapping a piece of the stomach around the oesophagus to create a new valve to prevent acid backing up from the stomach.
It used to be done by opening up the chest cavity, but with the advent of keyhole surgery is now a lot safer.
In conducting their study, researchers at the University of Aberdeen coordinated a trial of laparoscopic fundoplication surgery for 800 patients at 21 hospitals throughout Britain.
The found that one-year after keyhole surgery, only 14 percent of patients still required medication, compared with 90 percent of those treated with drugs alone.
The research suggests that surgery is more cost-effective because reflux sufferers no longer require medication and also gain improvements in quality of life.
The study's results also suggest that surgery should be routinely performed in patients with chronic acid reflux.
However, experts say some doctors view such surgery as "too extreme".
The researchers are now following the patients for five years to check the benefits are long-term.
"It looks pretty promising. I think these results will mean that surgeons will be suggesting the operation in those patients who are not quite so bad," BBC quoted study leader, Professor Adrian Grant, as saying.
He added: "Like all surgery, fundoplication has some risks, but the more troublesome the symptoms, the greater the potential benefit from the operation."