How common is Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease?
GORD is the most common diagnosis made by doctors in gastroenterology clinics and is thought to affect at least 10% of adults in western countries. The most common symptom of GORD is heartburn with 12% of Western populations experiencing heartburn once a week with 5% experiencing heartburn once a day.
Some GORD patients never experience heartburn but may have less common symptoms such as pain when swallowing, nausea and excess saliva. For many sufferers the symptoms of GORD can impact significantly on the ability to perform daily activities and can impact on quality of life.
What are the symptoms of Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease?
The main symptom of gastroesophageal reflux disease is heartburn but you can also feel pain in the upper abdomen or chest. Patients can feel sick and experience acid reflux where stomach acid comes back into your mouth causing an unpleasant, sour taste.
Other symptoms are belching, a burning pain when swallowing hot drinks and bad breath. Symptoms usually occur after a large meal, or at night and may feel worse when you are lying flat.
How is Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease diagnosed?
An endoscopy examination using a thin, flexible telescope passed down the oesophagus into the stomach will give the specialist an accurate indication of the health of your oesophagus.
If reflux oesophagitis is suspected during endoscopy, then several small biopsies are taken from the lining of the oesophagus to determine the severity of the condition.
Sometimes, specialised acid measurement tests are needed to confirm the diagnosis. Doctors can also ask for a barium swallow or barium meal that uses a solution and x-rays to chart blockages or abnormalities in the oesophagus.
Treatment of Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease
Lifestyle factors such as weight loss, dietary manipulations and smoking cessation are the first line of treatment. You can vary the amount you eat at meal times, maintain a healthy weight and avoid items that commonly trigger GORD such as coffee, chocolate, tomatoes, alcohol, fatty or spicy food. Drugs may be used to suppress the production of acid in the stomach and therefore reduce the amount of acid available to reflux into the oesophagus. These are well tolerated and effective.
In severe cases of GORD that cannot be treated by medication, individuals may be referred to a surgeon who may recommend a complex surgical procedure called fundoplication. Fundoplication involves wrapping the upper part of the stomach (fundus) around the lower end of the oesophagus and stitching it in place to artificially reinforce a weak lower oesophegeal sphincter. When performed by expert GI surgeons in specialised centres, fundoplication is generally acknowledged as an effective and durable therapy for advanced GORD or patients with a large hiatus hernia. Often there can be unwanted side effects such as the inability to belch or vomit, which can cause some patients to be reluctant to proceed with this surgery.
The Linx System
The Linx System is suitable for chronic GORD sufferers who do not respond fully to medication. The Linx System is a simple procedure designed to provide a permanent solution to GORD by stopping reflux at its source. The operation does not alter the anatomy of the stomach and may be reversible if necessary.
What is the Linx Reflux Management System?
The LINX System is a medical device which is placed around the Lower Oesophageal Sphincter (LOS) using a simple technique called laparoscopy (keyhole surgery). The device consists of a small flexible band of interlinked titanium beads with magnetic cores and is placed around the LOS in the closed position. The beads will separate temporarily as the force a swallow allows good and drink to pass into the stomach. The magnetic attraction between the beads then brings the device back to the closed position to prevent reflux occurring. The magnets are calibrated to allow higher gastric pressures to open the device, but will not open for the lower gastric pressure of reflux. This means that the device will also open if there is a need to release increased pressure in the stomach (when belching or vomiting).
Who is the Linx System suitable for?
It is suitable for people who suffer from GORD. In addition, the individual should be able to swallow normally, have a healthy oesophagus and this is sometimes assessed using Manometry.
How effective is the Linx System?
A clinical study looked at the extent to which the Linx System had helped patients five years after it had been implanted. The results showed that the GORD symptoms had improved significantly, and that 85% of patients were able to stop daily PPI medication. Reassuringly, these patients also said their quality of life had improved.
At The GI Unit, Mr Majid Hashemi regularly performs the Linx procedure and has been published in various news articles regarding the success of the Linx system. For any questions on Gastroesophageal Disease (GORD) or for more information on the Linx system you can contact us by calling 020 7078 3802 or by emailing us at [email protected].
Our gastrointestinal specialists team have a dedicated and caring approach and will seek to find you the earliest appointment possible with the correct specialist for your needs. If you are self-paying you don’t need a referral from your GP.
You can simply refer yourself and book an appointment. If you have medical insurance (e.g. Bupa, Axa Health, Aviva), you will need to contact your insurer for authorisation for any treatment and, in most cases, you will require a referral letter from your GP. If you do not have a GP, then we have an in-house private GP practice that you can use. Alternatively, we can suggest the most appropriate course of action for you to take, given your location and individual circumstance.