Dr. David Ward was one of the first surgeons to perform EsophyX™ TIF (transoral incisionless fundoplication), a new incisionless surgical treatment for chronic acid reflux, also known as gastro-esophageal reflux disease (GERD). EsophyX is for patients who are dissatisfied with current pharmaceutical therapies or are concerned about the long-term effects of daily use of reflux medications.
What is GERD?
If you have heartburn twice a week or more, you may have GERD. Heartburn is the most common symptom, but you may also experience:
- Hoarseness or sore throat
- Frequent swallowing
- Asthma or asthma-like symptoms
- Pain or discomfort in the chest
- Sleep disruption (unable to sleep lying down)
- Excessive clearing of the throat
- Persistent cough
- Burning in the mouth or throat
- Intolerance of certain foods
- Dental erosions or therapy-resistant gum disease or inflammation
Normally, after swallowing, a valve between the esophagus and stomach opens to allow food to pass, then it closes to prevent stomach contents from “refluxing” back into the esophagus, causing a burning sensation in the chest. For people who suffer from GERD, the valve is dysfunctional and unable to prevent acid from refluxing into the esophagus.
Why pharmaceuticals are not a long-term solution
GERD today is typically treated with medications such as Pepcid, Tagamet and Zantac, and proton pump inhibitors (PPIs), such as Nexium, Prilosec and Protonix. These medications can lose their effectiveness over time. They also don’t treat the underlying root causes of reflux, the deteriorated anatomy of the anti-reflux barrier, so lifelong medication therapy is required. In addition, recent studies on the adverse effects of long-term use of PPIs indicate a significantly higher incidence of hip fractures, particularly among women.
Conventional surgical treatment
For people who have severe GERD, surgical intervention may be required. Though the conventional laparoscopic procedure has long been proven a very effective long-term solution, it is still "invasive." It includes incisions and patients must remain in the hospital for up to several days. For that reason, the number of GERD sufferers who undergo the procedure is relatively small.
EsophyX was developed to emulate more invasive surgical techniques, but from within and completely without incisions and visible scars. The FDA cleared EsophyX device is completely incisionless and is performed through the mouth, rather than through an abdominal incision. Typically lasting no more than 30-45 minutes, the procedure is performed under general anesthesia and reconstructs the anti-reflux barrier to restore the competency of the gastroesophageal junction. Most patients can go home the next day and return to work within a few days.
Step 1: The specially designed EsophyX device enters the esophagus through the mouth and is positioned at the junction of the stomach and esophagus.
Step 2: The EsophyX device pulls and fastens a tissue fold.
Step 3: Step 2 is repeated multiple times to reconstruct a robust, tight valve that prevents the reflux of stomach contents up into the esophagu, resulting in the effective elimination of GERD.