New Relief for Reflux

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Beginning with Thanksgiving, and all the way through New Year’s, ‘tis the season for enjoying gatherings and good food. But if you suffer from gastroesophageal reflux disease, or GERD, the joy of eating often gives way to chronic heartburn that can lead to more serious conditions.  

Dr. Andrew VanOsdol, a general surgeon and fellowship trained bariatrics expert from Regional Health, says there is a new surgery to help combat the problem. He is the only surgeon in the western Dakotas trained in implanting the LINX, a small band of titanium beads that helps prevent reflux by magnetic attraction.

The LINX system is a series of interlinked titanium beads, each with a magnetic core, that is implanted around the lower esophageal sphincter and used for treating GERD when medication no longer provides adequate symptom control. This type of GERD treatment restores the lower esophageal sphincter function, prevents reflux, and preserves normal human physiology (ability to swallow, vomit, etc.). VanOsdol says placement of the LINX system is minimally invasive and will not cause significant alterations to anatomy that may limit treatment options in the future.

Eating too much rich, fatty food is a slippery slope to indigestion. And combined with alcohol and caffeine; it’s a recipe for a bad case of heartburn. For most people, heartburn and indigestion are temporary. But for those with reflux, it’s more serious.

VanOsdol says reflux tends to get worse with time. Dealing with reflux long-term can lead to strictures or even cancerous changes. Medications can help relieve pain, but they merely make the reflux less acidic so that you don’t feel it. The acid can still cause damage to the esophagus and throat.

If you think you have reflux, the first step is to see your primary care practitioner. If he or she determines that medical options are no longer appropriate, you may be referred to a general surgeon. VanOsdol sees patients at Spearfish Regional Medical Clinic as well as the Massa Berry Medical Clinic in Sturgis. 

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