An uncomfortable digestive disorder affecting more than three million Americans annually, acid reflux disease is often considered just another annoying, everyday irritation. However, in advanced cases of the disease, more than simple medication and lifestyle changes are required to provide relief.
Acid reflux, also called gastroesophageal reflux disease or GERD, occurs in the area between the stomach and the esophagus. In normal circumstances, the stomach produces acid in order to digest food, which should remain confined to the stomach. However, when there is a weakness in the lower esophageal sphincter, or LES, stomach acid can leak out, causing a sharp burning pain in the chest or upper stomach. This is where discomfort often begins and continues to worsen over time.
Treatment of common acid reflux varies, but the condition can normally be treated by over-the-counter medication and simple lifestyle changes such as losing weight, avoiding tobacco, coffee and excess alcohol, and maintaining a low-fat and low-acid diet. However, in cases of chronic acid reflux, continued use of medication may be necessary. Long-term use of such medications have been reported to have harmful effects.
"For patients who don't want to take medications or still have symptoms on medications, we can offer surgical treatment," said Dr. Darren Rohan, Westchester regional director of the Thoracic Surgery Program at Northern Westchester Hospital. "This procedure in the past had been done laparoscopically, [but] we now do this robotically."
Thanks to the minimally invasive surgery which repairs the weakened stomach valve, patients experience few side effects and go on to enjoy reflux-free lives just days after surgery. "Usually within two weeks patients are off their medications completely, without any evidence of reflux," said Rohan.
To hear more about the minimally invasive approach to acid reflux disease, watch the video above.
Call 914-666-1766 or visit Robotic and Minimally Invasive Surgery at Northern Westchester Hospital to learn more about treating acid reflux.