New Procedure Eliminates Chronic Acid Reflux and PPI Use
Barney and Mary bellow on the front porch. The beagles greet family and neighbors alike with their throaty howls. Jennie Youtz has had beagles all her life. This pair have been with her for over a decade… not nearly as long as her heartburn.
For twenty years she has lived with acid reflux. While it hasn’t always been bad, it has slowly gotten worse—both the burning in her throat and the interrupted sleep. For years she has slept with her head elevated in hopes to keep the acid down.
She’s controlled it with various over-the-counter medications. But she’s been reading the recent reports that indicate a connection between PPIs (Proton Pump Inhibitors) and malabsorption of vitamins and minerals, kidney disease and even dementia.
“I started to get scared of the long-term effects,” says Jennie. “And the problem was getting worse. I started to burp each night and spit-up a sour tasting fluid.”
She made an appointment with her gastroenterologist Shanker Mukherjee, M.D. who suggested a new procedure that could resolve her acid reflux and allow her to stop taking her PPI.
Transoral Incesionless Fundoplication , or TIF, rebuilds the valve that prevents stomach acid from irritating the esophagus.
“Some patients can control their acid reflux through diet and lifestyle changes alone,” says Dr. Mukherjee. “Others need medication. But an estimated 15 million Americans use PPIs, and research now indicates there are harmful side-effects from long-term use of those medicines. With TIF, patients have an alternative.”
The procedure is non-invasive, incisionless, performed through the mouth. It takes less than an hour.
In Jennie’s case, she had to first address a common ailment that can accompany chronic acid reflux: a hiatal hernia. It occurs when a portion of the stomach pushes up through the diaphragm.
Fellowship-trained and robotically-trained bariatric and general surgeon Vinay Singhal, M.D., worked in tandem with Dr. Muhkerjee. Dr. Singhal used the surgical robot to complete the hernia repair and then Dr. Muhkerjee use specialized endoscopy tools to rebuild the stomach valve.
All Jennie knew was she “was in good hands.”
“Dr. Muhkerjee rocks,” she says. “I’d do anything he recommends.”
She woke from the procedure feeling good. “I wasn’t uncomfortable and didn’t have any pain,” she says.
Jennie had to be on a liquid diet both before the procedure and afterward.
“We want patients to drop a little weight prior to surgery and want to prevent any spasm caused by solid food from damaging the site of the hernia repair,” says Dr. Singhal.
Jennie didn’t mind the liquids or the transition to soft foods.
“I’ve learned to eat slower, take smaller bites and not eat as much,” she says.
More importantly, she is feeling great.
“I have not had any heartburn since my surgery and am now off my PPI,” she says.
That’s big news. Plus she doesn’t have to give up any of her favorite foods.
“The thought of losing coffee and chocolate, which aggravated my acid reflux, was terrible,” she says. “You might as well shoot me and put me out of my misery.”
“I can’t say enough about my doctors, the staff at Easton Hospital and the relief of being off my PPI,” she says. “Bye-bye heartburn; it’s time to live pain free and worry free.”
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Easton, PA 18042-3892