For patients struggling to control the symptoms of gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD), Atlantic Health System now offers an innovative procedure called transoral incisionless fundoplication, or TIF, that can put a stop to the endless pain and discomfort of acid reflux disease without a single incision.
The TIF Procedure
TIF is a safe and effective minimally invasive procedure that treats GERD symptoms by building a new antireflux barrier to prevent acid reflux. With the TIF procedure, doctors can restore the natural shape, location and effectiveness of the valve that sits between your esophagus and your stomach, which can eliminate the root cause of acid reflux. In addition, surgeons are able to repair small hiatal hernias during the TIF procedure, eliminating the need for a second surgery.
“TIF is a powerful, minimally invasive addition to our arsenal of treatment options,” says Matthew Grossman, MD, interventional endoscopist at Atlantic Health System. “We are proud to be the leading provider in the state for this procedure.”
To perform the TIF procedure, surgeons first insert a tube to hold your throat open, then pass through special instruments and an endoscope, which is a long flexible instrument that goes down your throat and allows doctors to see inside your body. Using these tools, your surgeon pulls the top of your stomach up and wraps it around the base of your esophagus, creating a new valve that prevents acid from leaving your stomach. The procedure takes about an hour, and patients generally spend one night recovering in the hospital.
GERD Symptoms and Causes
GERD is a chronic condition caused by changes in the gastroesophageal valve that allows stomach acid to flow back up into your esophagus. GERD can negatively impact your quality of life and result in both bothersome or painful symptoms.
Common symptoms include:
- Chest pain
- Trouble swallowing
- Food sensitivity
If left untreated, reflux can lead to serious conditions including Barrett’s esophagus or, in fewer cases, esophageal cancer. When reflux extends beyond the lower esophagus, it can lead to trouble sleeping, sore throat and persistent cough, as well as gas and bloating. These symptoms can indicate a condition called laryngopharyngeal reflux (LPR).
What is a Hiatal Hernia?
Many people with GERD also have a hiatal hernia, which happens when part of the stomach moves up into the chest cavity. A hiatal hernia can make acid reflux worse if the hiatus (the hole in the diaphragm that allows food and liquids to pass into the stomach) is enlarged and allows stomach acid to flow back into the esophagus.
A future without GERD
Studies have shown that people have lasting relief from their GERD symptoms after having the TIF procedure, without the long-term side effects that come with more invasive reflux surgeries. Patients also experience less pain after the surgery and recover faster. Dr. Grossman says patients can expect their reflux symptoms to go away and often no longer need any or as much antacid medication.
“For people who have GERD symptoms that are difficult to control, TIF can significantly improve your quality of life,” says Dr. Grossman. “It’s a long-term solution that can reduce the risk of further damage to your esophagus.”
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