Life-changing Device Helps Heartburn Sufferer

Author: UR Medicine

(Sound of water running) I live to eat. I am a stubborn guy. I enjoy life and I don’t let things stop me so if I want to eat something I was going to and then just suffer the consequences. I suffered from GERD, acid reflux, probably for 30 years and it was really horrible. It feels like your chest is on fire. It’s typically triggered by acidic foods like orange juice and occasionally coffee and wine and spicy things. I married an Italian [laughs] so I’m going to eat tomato sauce, and if I ran out of Maalox I’d fish out the baking soda and actually mix it with water and drink that.

It used to be thought that a couple Prilosec a day would control this disease 100%, but it doesn’t. Anything to try to settle my burn. The more we measure it the more we recognize that people are still significantly impacted. Miserable, even. Nights I was really affected bad I’d wake up two or three times during the night to take medication. Difficulty sleeping affecting their job is a big quality of life trigger for many patients thinking about how can I possibly take care of this problem. The normal human body has a barrier between your stomach and your esophagus, the Lower Esophageal Sphincter or the valve at the other end of the esophagus.

It’s kind of like a sphincter at your mouth. A sphincter is just a round muscle. That normally keeps acid out of the esophagus. The barrier breaks down is the fundamental problem. The sphincter gets weaker and weaker and shorter.

It’s associated with being overweight. Not necessarily even obese, but just a little overweight, and it’s also associated with hiatal hernias. Your stomach has strong enough acid that it would burn your hand, so if the acid gets into the esophagus it’s a problem. The medicines change the chemistry of it. Take the sting out of the acid. The medicines don’t change the actual physical reflux of fluid from the stomach up into the esophagus, and that causes acid damage to the esophagus. We call that esophagitis or inflammation.

Life-changing Device Helps Heartburn Sufferer

This disease is not even theoretically controllable by the individual, it’s a life-long problem unless it’s surgically corrected. Once you have reflux disease it isn’t going away. It’s not like an ulcer that you can heal. This new device is a ring of magnets engineered to be just strong enough to be closed when a person’s not eating and open when you’re swallowing liquid or solids. It’s an artificial lower esophageal sphincter that goes around the lower esophagus and it’s a ring of somewhere between 12 or 14 little magnets, each one a little bit bigger than a bead. This device is placed in a 45 minute to 2 hour operation that is done with minimally invasive techniques under general anesthesia.

Couple days recovery, usually and a week or two off work. The best we know right now, with four or five hundred patients treated worldwide, it works, it works very well. After the surgery when I ate sometimes the magnet didn't want to open and it would cause some pain. But it … once my body got accustomed to the magnet opening I was fine. I was told don't take any of the medication and I didn't need to. The fix was that immediate. I eat all the foods I want.

I don't take any kind of medications. Nothing for acid reflux. I just don't have it. They usually come back and say my life has radically changed. I wish I'd done is ten years earlier. Go see Doctor Peters.

(laughs) I really do! I tell them make an appointment, get in there, let him check you out, see if you're a candidate. And if you are, don't hesitate. It's life changing. It's good.

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