Gut reaction

Acid reflux is a common and generally temporary condition – but when it becomes chronic, it’s time to look to a new treatment option

At some stage in their lives almost everyone will suffer from acid reflux – most commonly heartburn or regurgitation from the stomach back into the mouth. For most people it is an unpleasant sensation that passes in a matter of minutes, but for others it can be a daily problem turning every meal into an unpleasant and painful experience.

Gastro-Oesophageal Reflux Disease (GORD) can affect men and women of any age and often gets progressively worse. Gastrointestinal surgeon Mr Rishi Singhal is treating the condition with a new treatment option that can reduce or eliminate the symptoms with a simple operation with patients usually leaving the hospital on the same day.

Here he answers some questions about the illness and treatment with the LINX System…

Q: At what stage would you advise someone with Gastro-Oesophageal Reflux Disease to see their GP?

A: If someone is regularly suffering from heartburn or regurgitation. First stage treatment will usually be anti-acid medication of some kind.

Q: Is there an age group or sex that is more affected than others.

A: Patients will be generally be aged over 40, but this is a condition that can affect anyone – even in their teens and early twenties.

Q: When might surgery become an option?

A: Anyone who has clinically proven reflux and does not want to take life-long medications should consider anti-reflux surgery. Some patients may not experience complete control of symptoms with medications.

Q: How does the LINX System differ from other treatment options?

A: It is designed to augment the natural sphincter at the lower end of the oesophagus. It is thus quite physiological and patients can eat and drink normally without any restrictions.

Q: What does the operation consist of?

A: The procedure is done under general anaesthetic. The surgeon will make four or five small incisions in your stomach before the appropriately-sized device is put into place. The procedure generally takes less than an hour and starts working immediately. You will normally be discharged the following day. Typically, you will be able to resume your normal daily activities in less than a week.

Q: What is the process for getting back to eating after surgery?

A: You’ll be encouraged to start eating normal food immediately although initially to keep portions and bite sizes small, to eat something every three to five hours and stay hydrated. For the first three weeks it is also advisable to avoid eating thigs like bread crusts and pasta as well as steak and other ‘tough’ meats.

Rishi Singhal is a consultant gastrointestinal surgeon at Spire Parkway Solihull. Tel: 0121 704 5530