Treating Acid Reflux with Surgery

In general, acid reflux is first treated with medication. Acid reflux surgery is considered in the following situations: 

  • acid reflux symptoms cannot be treated by lifestyle modification or medical therapy
  • bone fracture risk from long-term use of proton pump inhibitors
  • nighttime cough or sleep difficulties due to breathing in stomach acid
  • worsening of asthma due to acid reflux
  • chronic throat or voice irritation
  • difficulty swallowing
  • Barrett’s change that increases risk of cancer
  • large hiatal hernia

Types of Acid Reflux Surgery

  • Physicians specialize in performing acid reflux surgery that corrects the underlying cause of reflux, reducing or eliminating the need for medication. These acid reflux surgical procedures include:
  • Laparoscopic fundoplication – The most common type of acid reflux surgery is fundoplication. In this procedure, the top portion of the stomach, called the fundus, is wrapped partially or fully around the lower esophageal sphincter, or LES, and stitched in place, helping the LES to function properly. Beaumont’s acid reflux surgeons perform the vast majority of these procedures in a minimally invasive manner with a laparoscope. Often patients are able to return home the next day and return to normal activities in 3-7 days.
  • Transoral Incisionless Fundoplication - Performed without the need for external incisions through the skin, the TIF procedure offers patients who require an anatomical repair an effective treatment option to correct the underlying cause of GERD. Studies show that for up to three years after the TIF procedure, esophageal inflammation (esophagitis) is eliminated and most patients are able to stop using daily medications to control symptoms. Because the procedure is incisionless, there is reduced pain, reduced recovery and no visible scar. 
  • BARRX – Used in patients with Barrett’s esophagus, the technology uses a special tool that uses radiofrequency waves to gently remove Barrett’s tissue, allowing healthy cells to regenerate. The procedure takes about an hour and is done on an outpatient basis. The frequency that the patient will have the procedure depends on the severity of the condition.