New minimally invasive procedure pulls patients out of acid reflux misery
Jeffrey S. Mandel, MD, is the first in the region to perform a new procedure to reduce chronic acid reflux.
The LINX Reflux Management System, developed by Torax Medical, Inc., is a small, circular band of interlinked titanium beads with magnetic cores. Placed around the esophagus, this band of beads augments the natural function of the lower esophageal sphincter, or LES, through magnetic attraction.
“With acid reflux, the LES isn’t working properly anymore,” Mandel explains. “So the acid that is supposed to be in your stomach rises up to your esophagus. That’s when you get heartburn or the regurgitation of stomach contents.”
The LINX System uses magnetic attraction to strengthen the LES, helping it to close normally and prevent reflux. Dr. Mandel sees the LINX System as a superior long-term solution to acid-reflux medication.
“Medication can block acid from being produced in the stomach, which is good for heartburn, but patients can still have regurgitation,” Mandel says. “Another issue is that patients who develop tolerance to those medications often find that they don’t have satisfactory control over their reflux. The LINX System is a mechanical solution for a mechanical problem, rather than a pharmaceutical solution.”
For more information call Dr. Mandel at Savannah Surgical Oncology at 912-354-6303. Or see the LINX site at www.toraxmedical.com/linx/.
The magnets are calibrated to be a certain strength, and the magnetic bond is broken by normal swallowing.
“The magnets are strong enough to keep acid from rising if there are any normal changes in pressure in the stomach,” Mandel says. “But the esophagus is still able to push food through and then allow the LES to be closed again by the LINX magnets.”
Not all patients who suffer from chronic reflux are candidates for the LINX procedure. Patients must be assessed by their physician, and for those with certain conditions, such as morbid obesity or a hiatal hernia, the traditional surgical procedure will be more appropriate. This procedure, called the Nissen fundoplication, has also been shown to be a safe and effective solution, but Dr. Mandel notes that there are benefits for patients who are good candidates for the LINX System.
“Patients who have traditional surgery may suffer from gas bloat syndrome,” Mandel explains. “They may have to deal with increased flatulence, and a small percentage of those patients won’t be able to belch or vomit. These kinds of side effects have made many people reluctant to undergo that surgery.”
The Nissen procedure involves wrapping part of the stomach around the bottom end of the esophagus to help reinforce the LES. The recovery period is longer, with strictly puréed food for the first two weeks and then 2 to 3 months of a slow reintroduction to a regular diet.