Esophageal surgeons at the Allegheny Health Network are among the first in the country to offer patients who suffer from gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD) a new minimally invasive treatment that studies have shown can greatly reduce the symptoms and associated risks of this common digestive disorder.
Called the LINX Management System, the procedure is the first non-medical surgical therapy to be approved for GERD by the Food and Drug Administration in more than three decades.
GERD is a chronic disease in which acidic stomach fluid refluxes into the esophagus. It is caused by a weak lower esophageal sphincter (LES), which is a valve-like muscle that regulates the passage of food and liquid from the esophagus into the stomach. When gastric juices flow back into the esophagus, it can be severely damaged and cause a host of unpleasant symptoms, including heartburn, chest pain, regurgitation, sore throat, and chronic cough.
It is estimated that 25-40% of American adults experience symptomatic GERD each month, and 10-20% suffer from it daily.
The LINX system is a technology designed to prevent reflux by reinforcing the faulty lower esophageal sphincter, said Blair Jobe, M.D.,
Director of the Institute for the Treatment of Esophageal and Thoracic Disease at the Western Pennsylvania Hospital. Dr. Jobe is now performing the procedure at West Penn and Canonsburg General Hospital, both members of the Allegheny Health Network.
“Effectively treating GERD with a surgical repair of the LES can not only improve patients’ quality of life by eliminating symptoms, but it may also help to prevent or stop serious associated conditions such as adult onset asthma, chronic cough, and esophageal inflammation and scar formation. After undergoing the LINX procedure, patients will be able to eliminate the use of GERD medications,” Dr. Jobe said.
The LINX system uses a small, flexible band of magnets enclosed in titanium beads to regulate a weak LES and mimic a natural barrier to reflux. The bracelet is placed around the base of the esophagus. When food or liquid passes through, the band expands. The magnetic bond then allows the beads to close after swallowing, preventing gastric juices from refluxing back into the esophagus.
The LINX procedure is performed laparoscopically on an outpatient basis and typically takes 30 minutes to an hour to complete. Patients are placed under general anesthesia.
Most patients fully recover from the procedure in about a week and can resume their normal diet soon afterward. Side effects are generally minimal and resolve over time.
“This unique procedure is a relatively simple operation to perform which will hopefully lead to predictable and standardized positive outcomes and a dramatic improvement in quality of life.” Dr. Jobe said
In a recent clinical study published in the New England Journal of Medicine, of 100 people with GERD who underwent the LINX procedure, 92% achieved significant symptom improvement, 91% achieved freedom from daily medication, 100% eliminated severe regurgitation, and 94% were satisfied with their overall condition.
Dr. Jobe said the demand for the procedure is rising exponentially as more patients learn about it. He said good candidates for the LINX procedure are those diagnosed with GERD through pH testing and those who are dependent on medical therapy or when medical therapy is no longer controlling the symptoms.
Those who would like to learn more about the LINX system, speak with a patient who has undergone this procedure or make an appointment with Dr. Jobe can call (724) 260-7300.
For more information, contact:
The West Penn Allegheny Health System