CONTACT: TOM MOORE
8798 John Pappajohn Pavilion
Iowa City IA 52242
Release: May 6, 1999
Effective surgical treatment for acid reflux available
IOWA CITY, Iowa -- We see advertisements for prescription
medications, but now one company has begun to advertise a surgical technique.
The technique is called Nissen laparoscopic fundoplication.
It's used to treat gastro-esophageal reflux disorder (GERD), also called acid
reflux. The disorder occurs when the valve between the stomach and the esophagus
does not close properly, allowing stomach acid to reflux, or flow back up
into the esophagus, producing the sensation known as heartburn. Over the course
of time, GERD can result in scarring of the esophagus and may possibly lead
to esophageal cancer.
"Fortunately, we have an effective surgical treatment
for acid reflux," said James Maher, M.D., University of Iowa professor of
surgery and a surgeon in the Digestive Disease Center at the UI Hospitals
and Clinics. "A Nissen fundoplication, in which we build up the tissues around
the lower opening of the esophagus, prevents stomach acid from refluxing back
up into the esophagus."
At one time, surgeons had to make a large incision in
the abdomen to reach the esophageal opening to the stomach. Approximately
seven or eight years ago, a new technique, the one now being advertised, became
Nissen laparoscopic fundoplication involves making several
small incisions, each about a third of an inch or so long, in the abdomen.
Through one of those tiny openings, surgeons insert a telescopic camera that
allows them to see the esophagus and stomach. They then use the remaining
incisions to insert their surgical instruments and perform the surgery.
"We've had a great deal of success with this approach,"
Maher said. "It is effective at preventing acid reflux, and patients generally
have less pain and recover more quickly than those who receive a large abdominal
People who frequently experience the symptoms of acid
reflux, such as pain and burning, and routinely need to take antacids, should
consult their physician. Certain cases may require surgical treatment, which
can relieve their symptoms and may also reduce their risk for cancer of the