Treating Heartburn and Acid Reflux

The Heartburn and Reflux Center at Northern Nevada Medical Center offers innovative treatments that can reduce chronic heartburn, as well as chest or throat discomfort to help you restore your lifestyle.

For more information or to schedule a consultation, call 775-352-5384.

Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease

Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease (GERD), also known as Acid Reflux Disease, affects millions of Americans. GERD occurs when stomach acids or intestinal bile leak back from the stomach into the esophagus (the tube that runs from the mouth to the stomach), a process called gastroesophageal reflux. Reflux can irritate the esophagus, cause heartburn and other symptoms and can damage the esophagus.

When people eat, food passes from the throat to the stomach through the esophagus. After food has passed into the stomach, a ring of muscle fibers called the lower esophageal sphincter, or LES, prevents food from moving backward into the esophagus. If this sphincter muscle doesn't close completely, food, liquid and stomach acid can leak back into the esophagus. This is called reflux or gastroesophageal reflux. Reflux may cause symptoms, or it can even damage the esophagus.

Heartburn is the most common symptom, but other symptoms include:

  • Regurgitation
  • Hoarseness
  • Belching
  • Sore throat
  • Asthma-like symptoms
  • Chest pain or discomfort
  • Excessive throat clearing
  • Persistent cough
  • Bloating
  • Burning in the mouth or throat.

Prolonged acid reflux can result in chronic inflammation of the esophagus and a change in its lining, a condition known as Barrett’s esophagus, which has been linked to cancer of the esophagus.

Treatment Options

Medication, diet and lifestyle changes are the most common treatment options for GERD. While these treatments can alleviate symptoms, they typically do not solve the problem or halt progression of disease. Even with medications, you may still need to restrict your diet.

Surgery may be an option to treat severe GERD. Surgeons have used invasive procedures such as the Nissen Fundoplication to provide an effective therapy for acid reflux. Nissen Fundoplication and similar procedures have declined in popularity because of their invasive nature. Transoral Incisionless Fundoplication (TIF) is an advanced surgical procedure that offers relief from acid reflux without surgical incisions, and is available at Northern Nevada Medical Center.

Transoral Incisionless Fundoplication (TIF)

TIF is a less invasive restoration of the anti-reflux barrier that does not require internal incisions or dissection. Most patients are able to return home the next day, and can return to work and most normal activities within a few days. This procedure is performed by General Surgeon Michael Murray, MD, from Northern Nevada Medical Group.

During the procedure, with the patient under general anesthesia, surgeons insert a device equipped with a small camera through the patient’s mouth and toward the stomach. Surgeons manipulate the device to make and fasten several folds of tissue (plications) and create an anti-reflux valve at the connection of the stomach and esophagus. After two years, the majority of TIF patients are able to return to eating foods that they could not previously tolerate, and are able to stop taking medication.

For more information or to schedule a consultation, call 775-352-5384.