Repeated bouts of heartburn and sour-tasting fluid in your throat are classic symptoms of a common health problem called gastroesophageal reflux disease, or GERD (also known as reflux disease). The heartburn caused by GERD may strike after you eat a large meal or when you bend over or lie down. Without treatment, GERD can lead to serious problems, even cancer. GERD can sometimes be controlled with simple lifestyle changes and medication. If your symptoms persist, surgery may offer more lasting relief.
GERD is caused by acid that escapes from your stomach through a weakened valve or sphincter near the top of your stomach. The acid can travel as far upward. Eating certain foods and taking certain medications can add to the problem. Smoking, caffeine and alcohol all increase the level of acid in the stomach and make symptoms worse.
Symptoms of GERD include: heartburn, bitter or sour taste in the back of the mouth, belching, upper abdominal pain, worsening symptoms when bending over, lying down, chronic cough or even asthma.
Once the diagnosis is confirmed and the medical types of treatment have not been effective in controlling GERD, surgical laparoscopic fundoplication may be recommended. Before surgery, the patient's general health will be checked and routine blood work performed. Admission to the hospital will usually be on the same day as the surgery. The procedure is accomplished by recreating the lower esophageal sphincter (LES) by wrapping the very top of the stomach around the lower part of the esophagus. The surgery usually lasts from 2-3 hours. Laparoscopic surgery is performed through several small incisions instead of a single long incision, as in the traditional open procedure. As a result, there is less pain, and a quicker recovery. Most people go home 1-2 days after the surgery and return to work in 1-2 weeks. If, for some reason, it is unsafe to perform the laparoscopic surgery, an open procedure will be performed. This surgery requires a longer recover time, up to 3-4 days in the hospital and from 4-6 weeks avoiding strenuous activity.