Commonly referred to as acid reflux or persistent heartburn, gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD) affects an estimated 1 in 5 Americans at some point in their lives. During its early stages, GERD may only produce mild heartburn and discomfort. Left untreated, however, chronic acid reflux often leads to painful symptoms and complications of the upper digestive tract, including ulcers, strictures, Barrett’s esophagus and even esophageal cancer.
Reflux surgery is a safe, well-established treatment option for individuals suffering from GERD that can both alleviate symptoms and reduce dependency on anti-reflux medications. Often performed using a minimally invasive approach, Nissen fundoplication is a highly effective reflux procedure that restores the natural barrier between esophagus and stomach to prevent acid reflux.
At West Coast Associates Thoracic Surgery, our renowned thoracic surgeons are highly experienced in the most advanced reflux surgery techniques. Using a comprehensive and individualized treatment approach, our surgeons can determine the best method to resolve GERD and get you back to living symptom-free.
Eligibility for Reflux Surgery
Reflux surgery is ideal for individuals who suffer from chronic, discomforting acid reflux that has not responded well to anti-reflux medications. These individuals are often at a higher risk of developing more serious medical conditions as a result of constant damage to the esophageal lining. Additionally, Nissen fundoplication may be a good option for patients who are apprehensive of long-term medication use and would prefer a one-time treatment solution.
In some cases, you may be eligible for a similar but less invasive procedure known as Transoral Incisionless Fundoplication (TIF). Our experienced thoracic surgeons can help determine which reflux surgery technique will be the most effective for your condition.
What Does Nissen Fundoplication Involve?
As experts in minimally invasive surgery, our surgeons typically perform Nissen fundoplication using a laparoscopic approach. Laparoscopy is a surgical technique in which a thin camera inserted into the abdomen transmits live video-feed to our surgeons throughout the procedure. Laparoscopy offers several advantages over a traditional open surgery, including less damage to abdominal tissue, lower risk of complications, decreased scarring, decreased post-operative pain and a faster recovery.
Under general anesthesia, our surgeons will make several small incisions (5-10 mm) in the abdomen for insertion of the laparoscopic equipment. Next, the point at which the esophagus empties into the stomach (gastroesophageal valve) is located. If a hiatal hernia is present, it is repaired by bringing the abdominal contents back into the abdomen from the chest cavity. The diaphragmatic hiatus is then tightened to prevent re-herniation. The reconstruction process involves wrapping a portion of the stomach known as the fundus around the gastro-esophageal junction to create a barrier to acid reflux. During this process, certain anatomical abnormalities that contribute to acid reflux (such as a hiatal hernia) can be repaired. The end result is a functioning gastroesophageal valve/junction that more effectively prevents symptoms of GERD and progression of the disease.
Recovery from Nissen Fundoplication
Following laparoscopic Nissen fundoplication surgery, most patients are able to return home within one to two days. Our surgeons may recommend a liquid diet for up to one month after surgery to minimize discomfort during the natural healing process. As with any surgical procedure, Nissen fundoplication involves a small risk of complications. Some patients may experience temporary pain, bloating, or dysphagia (difficulty swallowing) following the procedure that should resolve within twelve weeks.
Contact a Los Angeles Thoracic Surgeon
West Coast Thoracic Surgery is a Los Angeles-based center dedicated to the comprehensive treatment of diseases and conditions within the chest cavity. Having trained at some of the country’s most prestigious medical institutions, our renowned thoracic surgeons possess extensive knowledge of esophageal disease and unparalleled expertise in the field of minimally invasive surgery.
To find out if you are a candidate for reflux surgery or to schedule a consultation with one of our expert thoracic surgeons, please call 310.854.0909 or fill out our online contact form.
Next, read about hyperhidrosis surgery.