New surgery helps patients live a more comfortable life with Gerd

From babies to grown-ups, it's a digestive problem that can hit anyone.

For 25 million Americans Gerd is a painful issue they deal with every day. Now doctors are offering patients relief, with a medical sewing machine of sorts.

Alexa Hollander has a sweet gig, working at her favorite yogurt shop. What she didn't love was the sudden pain she started feeling two years ago every time she ate.

Alexa Hollander, has Gerd, explains the symptoms she was having, "Instantly get this really bad taste in my mouth."

Alexa was diagnosed with Gerd, a chronic digestive disease that happens when stomach acid flows back into the food pipe causing inflammation. For two years she tried different types of medication. Nothing worked.

Deborah Hollander, Alexa's mom, explains that she knew something was wrong, "That's when I realized we have a serious issue here."

Miguel Burch, MD Associate Director of General and Minimally Invasive Surgery, Cedars Sinai Medical Center, explains how the problem happens, "As the esophagus gets more and more injured from the acid, the cells in the esophagus can start to change that can predispose you to cancer down the road."

Before that could happen, Doctor Miguel Burch performed a new surgery, to help Alexa keep her food down. Without incisions, Doctor Burch gathered part of Alexa's upper stomach, pinched it and sewed it around the lower end of the esophagus, creating a one way valve that allows food to pass through the esophagus and into the stomach, but it doesn't allow the acids to come back up.

Doctor Burch, MD, explains the procedure, "It's a very innovative way to sew, she was able to within 2 hours to have her disease under control again."

In a three year clinical trial, 80-percent of patients were off their daily anti-acid medication after the procedure and were able to eat more types of food.

Alexa Hollander explains the first thing she had after the surgery, "They gave me apple juice and I hadn't had apple juice in two years."

Today, Alexa is back to being a normal teenager and ready to tackle her most important job, serving and eating her favorite foods.

Because there are no incisions in this procedure, there's minimal scarring and patients should be able to return to normal activities within days.

Doctor Burch says patients might experience a sore throat after the surgery but it should go away in just a few days.


REPORT: MB #3402

BACKGROUND: GERD stands for Gastroesophageal reflux disease. When you swallow, the lower esophageal sphincter - a circular band of muscle around the bottom part of your esophagus - relaxes to allow food and liquid to flow down into your stomach. Then it closes again. However, if this valve relaxes abnormally or weakens, GERD can occur, causing frequent heartburn and disrupting your daily life. Over time, the inflammation can erode the esophagus, causing complications such as bleeding or breathing problems. When signs and symptoms occur at least twice each week or interfere with your daily life, doctors call it GERD. Conditions that can increase your risk of GERD include obesity, hiatal hernia, pregnancy, smoking, dry mouth, asthma, diabetes, delayed stomach emptying, connective tissue disorders, such as scleroderma and Zollinger-Ellison syndrome. (

SYMPTOMS: GERD signs and symptoms include: a burning sensation in your chest (heartburn), sometimes spreading to the throat, along with a sour taste in your mouth; chest pain; difficulty swallowing (dysphagia); dry cough; hoarseness or sore throat; regurgitation of food or sour liquid (acid reflux); or sensation of a lump in the throat. Seek immediate medical attention if you experience chest pain, especially when accompanied by other signs and symptoms, such as shortness of breath or jaw or arm pain. These may be signs and symptoms of a heart attack. Make an appointment with your doctor if you experience severe or frequent GERD symptoms. If you take over-the-counter medications for heartburn more than twice per week, see your doctor. (

TRANSORAL INCISION-LESS ANTI-REFLUX SURGERY: The procedure, using the EsophyX device, is closely based on the well-established principles of conventional anti-reflux surgery and delivers similar results. The main differences between TIF and conventional surgery are:
* Incisionless Approach: Conventional antireflux surgery involves accessing the anatomy via 3 to 5 abdominal incisions. TIF does not require any incisions and is performed through the patient's mouth.
* No Dissection: Laparoscopic surgery requires the surgeon to dissect, or cut around, relative anatomy which can increase the risk of complications and adhesions as well as recovery time.
* Hiatal Hernia Repair: The TIF procedure is best suited for patients with hiatal hernia less than 2 cm.
* Strong Safety Profile: To date, over 10,245 procedures have been performed with fewer adverse events and complications than conventional anti-reflux surgery.
Due to the unique approach of the procedure, patients typically experience less discomfort, faster recovery and fewer adverse effects. Results to date are comparable to those of conventional anti-reflux surgery.

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