Ragui Sadek
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Anatomy of swallowing food

When we swallow our food travels down the esophagus to the stomach. When the food enters the stomach there is a valve or ring of muscle called the lower esophageal sphincter (LES) that closes to keep the food in the stomach.

What is heartburn?

Heartburn is acid reflux that occurs occasionally when you eat spicy or acidic foods, fried or fatty foods, caffeine and alcohol. Eating a large meal or eating before bedtime can cause these symptoms. Smoking and obesity contribute to the problem. More than 60 million Americans experience heartburn at least once a month. Heartburn can be treated with lifestyle changes, and over-the-counter medications that are designed to decrease the production of stomach acid.

Typical heartburn symptoms include:

  • a burning sensation in the chest that can last for hours
  • a sensation of pressure or pain that gets worse when you lie down or bend over
  • an acid taste in the throat
  • a feeling that food or pills are stuck in your throat or the middle of your chest

What is gastroesophageal reflux (GERD)?

GERD is a chronic and often progressive disease where stomach acid and bile back up into the esophagus, due to a weak LES. The acid irritates the esophagus and causes heartburn.

Persistent heartburn symptoms that occur several times a week, and do not improve with over the counter medications and changes to your diet are GERD. In addition to heartburn, hallmarks of GERD are regurgitation and dysphagia or a sensation that food is stuck in your esophagus.

GERD is a more serious condition that substantially impairs quality of life.

Left untreated, GERD can cause complications including inflammation of the esophagus, pain and a disease called Barrett’s Esophagus (BE), where the lining of the esophagus erodes. BE can lead to esophageal cancer. BE is more common in white men, people older than 50, smokers and obese people.

Surgical Treatment Options for GERD

A laparoscopic Nissen Fundoplication (LNF) is surgery where the top of the stomach is wrapped around the LES to reinforce the sphincter and reduce acid reflux. LNF is the gold standard surgical treatment for GERD. However, it is a long and more invasive surgery, permanently alters the anatomy of the stomach, and is not reversible. Patients say in the hospital for 2-3 days, and recovery can take 4-6 weeks and involve dietary restrictions for a period after surgery.

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Advanced Surgical & Bariatrics
81 Veronica Avenue, Suite 205,
Somerset, NJ 08873
(732) 640-5316

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