New incision-free procedure raises hope for severe acid reflux patients

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Washington, Mar 1 (ANI): Patients with severe, chronic acid reflux disease have been offered a new hope - a unique incision-free procedure called TIF, or transoral incisionless fundoplication.

Chronic GERD (gastroesophageal reflux disease) is a painful heartburn caused when stomach acid breaks through what is supposed to be a one-way valve - the lower esophageal sphincter (LES) - and reverses into the esophagus.

GERD can raise the risk of cancer of the esophagus, and can cause damage due to inhalation of stomach acid.

While most patients are prescribed a daily medication, it is sometimes ineffective. In addition, new research indicates that continued drug therapy might cause calcium depletion, contributing to osteoporosis.

"Drug therapy, when it works, is simply masking an underlying anatomic defect. The TIF procedure corrects the source of the problem by repairing the faulty lower esophageal sphincter in order to keep stomach acid where it belongs," says Dr. Marc Bessler, director of laparoscopic surgery and director of the Center for Obesity Surgery at NewYork-Presbyterian Hospital/Columbia University Medical Center, and assistant professor of surgery at Columbia University College of Physicians and Surgeons.

The procedure is performed under general anesthesia and takes less than an hour.

The clinician inserts a specially-designed device through the patient's mouth and into the stomach, just below the gastroesophageal junction, where tissue is molded to create a new valve.

"In most cases, the result is an elimination of reflux, with research showing that 80 percent of patients treated no longer need to take daily medications," says Dr. Peter D. Stevens, director of endoscopy, director of interventional endoscopy and medical director of the scarless surgery program at NewYork-Presbyterian Hospital/Columbia University Medical Center, and associate professor of medicine at Columbia University College of Physicians and Surgeons.

"Because there are no incisions, the TIF procedure is more comfortable for the patient than the traditional open or laparoscopic approach, with a shorter hospital stay, improved recovery, and reduced risk of complications compared with open or laparoscopic surgery," adds Dr. Stevens.

"Unlike prior endoscopic treatments for reflux, the molding of the flap valve that holds back acid is expected to be much more robust and effective," the expert added. (ANI)

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