Sufferers of heartburn often shrug off their discomfort, thinking it’s a “natural occurrence” and “no big deal.” While occasional heartburn, triggered by a particularly large, spicy or fatty meal, is no cause for alarm, antacids shouldn’t have to be a regular “dessert.” If the pain is severe and becomes a way of life (occurring more than twice a week), it may be time to see your doctor. Chronic acid reflux can be a symptom of gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD), which can lead to increased risk for esophageal cancer and other devastating consequences if left untreated.
According to the National Cancer Institute, esophageal cancer is one of the fastest-growing cancer diagnoses in the United States, with nearly 18,000 new cases diagnosed every year. Like many cancers, the causes of esophageal cancer are not completely understood, but researchers have established a clear link between GERD and adenocarcinoma— a serious, potentially fatal cancer of the esophagus.
What is GERD?
GERD is a digestive disorder affecting the lower esophageal sphincter (LES), a muscle that connects the esophagus with the stomach. When functioning properly, the LES opens temporarily when food or drink is swallowed, and closes quickly after it passes through. GERD is caused by a damaged or weakened LES that allows acid, bile and digestive enzymes to flow back (reflux) into the esophagus.
Reflux and Risk
This repeated reflux can set the stage for esophageal cancer by changing the lining of the esophagus as normal cells are replaced with tougher, more acid-resistant cells. Over time, the tissue damage can lead to a precancerous condition known as Barrett’s esophagus. About 10% of people with chronic symptoms of GERD develop the disorder.
Stop GERD with LINX
Dr.Weiland and the gastric reflux team at Surgical Associates are highly trained and experienced in the treatment of GERD, including the revolutionary LINX Reflux Management System.
Unlike other procedures used in the treatment of gastric reflux, the LINX system requires no altering of the stomach. It is implanted laparoscopically and consists of a small a band of magnetized titanium beads that wrap around the base of the esophagus. The band prevents stomach acid from being pushed into the esophagus but also expands and contracts for easy swallowing.
The procedure is minimally invasive and generally completed in less than an hour. Once implanted, the device starts working immediately. Patients can often go home within 24 hours and resume a normal diet. Routine physical activities can begin within a few days of surgery.
The LINX system is a permanent, drug-free solution that helps get patients back to a normal lifestyle unrestricted by GERD.
Long-Term Benefits of LINX
- EASES symptoms of heartburn and regurgitation
- LESSENS instances of acid exposure to the esophagus
- REDUCES or ELIMINATES the need for gastric reflux medications
Because GERD can lead to serious medical conditions, including Barrett’s esophagus and even cancer, early detection and treatment is vital.
Take control of your chronic heartburn or GERD-related symptoms, and schedule an appointment with your GI physician to discuss diagnosis and treatment options.
Meet the Northwoods’ Gastric Reflux Expert
Gastric reflux specialist Sara M. Olson, NP is now accepting patients at Surgical Associates’ outreach clinic in Rhinelander.
Olson received her BSN from the University of Wisconsin—Eau Claire and her MSN from the University of Wisconsin–Oshkosh. She is an ANCC certified Family Nurse Practitioner and worked for 20 years as a primary care nurse practitioner in northern Wisconsin before shifting her focus to general, gastric reflux and bariatric surgery.
For more information regarding GERD or the LINX Reflux Management System, call Surgical Associates at 1-888-278-3795.