By Kevin Hoddinott, MD
General, Vascular and Bariatric Surgeon
What may have seemed like science fiction, surgery without an incision, is now a reality that is making lives better for patients suffering from chronic acid reflux also known as gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD). The Transoral incisionless fundoplication (TIF) procedure uses an endoscopic approach to treat the underlying anatomic causes of GERD. TIF is performed from within the GI tract with the EsophyX device inserted through the patient’s mouth. There are no abdominal incisions; it is a no cut procedure.
The TIF procedure with the EsophyX device can significantly improve quality of life for patients. Many patients take reflux medications which suppress acid production such as PPIs (proton pump inhibitors) to help relieve their heartburn symptoms and are still unable to eat the foods they want or have to sleep sitting up to reduce nighttime reflux. In addition, recent studies have shown that long term use of PPIs can lead to inadequate absorption of minerals such as calcium leading to bone fractures. Studies have also shown that PPIs can interact with other prescription medications reducing their efficacy. Clinical studies show that at two years after the TIF procedure nearly 80% of patients are off their daily reflux medications and can eat and drink foods and beverages they avoided for many years. Reflux no longer impacts their life like it previously did.
In a healthy patient, there is a natural valve between the esophagus and the stomach that forms a physical barrier preventing stomach fluids from backwashing, or “refluxing,” up into the esophagus. In a patient with chronic GERD, this valve has become dysfunctional. The TIF procedure reconstructs the valve between the esophagus and the stomach to prevent reflux. It is based on the same well proven principles of conventional more invasive laparoscopic GERD surgery. TIF’s advantage is that it is ‘surgery from within’ performed transorally (through the mouth). Because the procedure is incisionless, there is reduced pain, no visible scar and most patients can get back to their normal activities within a few days.
To date, TIF has been performed in more than 14,000 patients and evaluated in numerous peer-reviewed publications. In 30 unique studies with follow up in over 700 patients, weighted outcomes following the TIF procedure demonstrate significant control of reflux and improvement in quality of life.
With millions of Americans diagnosed with GERD and not fully satisfied with their treatment options, the TIF procedure with the EsophyX device offers an excellent alternative and:
• Is less invasive than conventional antireflux surgery.
• Is performed without incisions which reduces discomfort, spares healthy anatomy, and allows for future intervention if necessary.
• Offers fewer side effects like difficulty swallowing, gas bloat and flatulence.
While the TIF procedure is less invasive than conventional laparoscopic fundoplication and has an excellent safety profile, it is important to note that TIF is still a surgical procedure and that all surgical procedures have risks. Before deciding on a procedure, patients should speak with their doctors in detail about the risks and complications that may arise.
Please contact us if you or someone you know suffers with chronic GERD and would like more information about how TIF can get you back to living without the pills and without heartburn.
Munroe Regional Center
1511 SW 1st Avenue
A Surgical Solution for Heartburn Without Incisions
By Kevin Hoddinott, MD