by, Alexander Blankenship, M.D.
Gastroesophageal Reflux is a rather prevalent condition, affecting one in five American adults on a regular basis. It occurs when the muscle at the lower end of the esophagus is ineffective in keeping stomach acid from going backwards (refluxing) into the esophagus.
The most common symptoms are heartburn, sour taste in the mouth, difficulty swallowing and chest pain. Most people can be treated with medications (prescription and over the counter) and lifestyle changes such as avoiding caffeine and alcohol, weight loss and smoking cessation. A small percentage of people require surgery.
The surgery is aimed at reestablishing a barrier to the acid in the stomach without impeding the flow of food from the esophagus to the stomach. Surgery often involves repair of a hiatal hernia, which occurs commonly with and helps cause reflux. Evaluation prior to surgery involves some outpatient testing to optimize results.
Surgery, which is covered by most insurance companies, is usually done laparoscopically (small incisions) with an overnight stay in the hospital. Most patients are able to eliminate or significantly reduce their need for daily medication and are usually back to their regular activities within a few days.
For more information, or to schedule a consultation, please call Blankenship General Surgery, LLC at (251)-634-2900.