One in five adults in the U.S. suffer from gastroesophageal reflux disease, a digestive disorder that causes severe heartburn or acid indigestion. The Transoral Incisionless Fundoplication procedure can bring long-term relief from these symptoms and is now available at Banner Churchill Community Hospital.
Until recently, people suffering from GERD faced either a lifetime of daily medications, and often incomplete resolution of their symptoms, or the risks of invasive surgery. The minimally-invasive TIF procedure aids patients in getting off medications that can be harmful over time, and it doesn’t require any incisions to do so.
The esophageal valve in GERD patients is often weak or relaxes inappropriately, allowing the contents of the stomach to back up into the esophagus. Through the TIF procedure, specially-trained physicians use a device inserted through the mouth to restore the natural shape, location and effectiveness of the esophageal valve, stopping reflux.
For those suffering with GERD, discomfort and negative health effects occur when stomach contents flow back into the food pipe enough to cause tissue damage in the esophagus and difficulty swallowing. Symptoms can be daily heartburn, regurgitation, chronic cough, hoarseness and dental erosions causing inconsistent sleep patterns, dietary restrictions, additional health care costs and lost productivity from work.
Most people experiencing these symptoms try to manage the disease with medications, such as Nexium, Prilosec or Prevacid. These drugs are called proton pump inhibitors (PPI’s). They keep the stomach from making too much acid.
Michael Murray, MD, who performs the TIF procedure at Banner Churchill, said the problem with the medications is that they fail more than 30 percent of the time and don’t treat the underlying anatomical problem.
“Studies show the TIF Procedure can reduce patients’ dependency on these medications with 75 percent of patients completely off their daily medications after three years and experiencing a dramatic improvement in their quality of life,” he said.
Dr. Murray has performed more than 300 TIF procedures and trains other surgeons around the country on how to do the procedure.
Alice Welch, Banner Churchill Community Hospital’s first TIF procedure patient, said she had been using a PPI medication for longer than she could remember when she learned of a new option available to her.
“My doctor gave me two options: I could stay on the PPI and have increased risks from medications, or I could go through the TIF procedure and be rid of the medications completely,” she said.
Already a cancer survivor, Welch chose the latter. She underwent the procedure in August and was able to completely get off her medication after just four days.
The outpatient procedure is performed in the surgical suites at the hospital, 801 E. Williams Ave., in Fallon, Nevada. Patients are typically sent home within 24 hours of treatment and experience little to no discomfort afterward.
The TIF procedure is an option for people with severe acid reflux who have exhausted medications but are still not getting results. Patients with this problem are at risk of cancer, and long-term dependency to PPIs can be associated with complications including negative impacts throughout the body on the gastrointestinal system, nutrient absorption, bones, kidneys, heart, and shortened lifespans.
Those who believe they might be suffering from GERD are encouraged to talk to their primary care physician. For more information, visit www.GERDHelp.com.