Are there any other treatment options? I’ve been dealing with heartburn, regurgitation and other GERD symptoms since my 20s and none of the medicines seem to work for very long.
There is. In fact, a better way of managing GERD for patients who don’t respond to medicine has recently arrived in Kansas City. It’s called the LINX® Reflux Management System and it is an implant that helps keep acid in the stomach and out of your esophagus.
About Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease (GERD)
Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease (GERD) happens when the muscle that connects your esophagus to your stomach weakens. It’s called the lower esophageal sphincter (LES) muscle and it is supposed to tighten after food passes into the stomach to keep food and stomach acid from leaking backward into the esophagus.
With a weak LES, stomach acid bile flows into the esophagus, causing symptoms like acid reflux and heartburn. It is estimated that one in every five adults in the United States has GERD. There are a number of treatments typically used to treat GERD, including lifestyle changes and medications.
Medications focus on treating the acid part of acid reflux by either neutralizing acid in the stomach (antacids) or lessening the amount of acid from being produced (H2 blockers and proton pump inhibitors). Prokinetics (drugs that strengthen contractions in the digestive tract) or antibiotics may be used to help the stomach empty more quickly.
As many as 40 percent of GERD patients may continue to have symptoms despite being on medication. If you are among the 40 percent, you may be a candidate for the LINX® Reflux Management System.
About LINX Implant
LINX is an implant that is placed around the LES muscle to help it stay closed unless food is passing through it into the stomach. The device itself is about the size of a quarter and looks a bit like a beaded ring. Except instead of beads, there are small magnets. The ring is placed around the LES muscle and the magnets close tight to prevent anything flowing out of the stomach and into the esophagus.
When you swallow the magnets release temporarily, allowing the ring to open and food or drinks to pass through into the stomach. The ring then closes again, keeping acid, bile and food where it belongs.
LINX is implanted through a minimally invasive procedure that takes about an hour. Patients are usually able to go home within a day and resume a normal diet. This procedure is now available with Dr. Jonathan Patterson at Centerpoint Medical Centeran HCA Midwest Health hospital.
Unlike other surgical treatments for GERD, the LINX procedure does not change the stomach or esophagus. And it is completely reversible. The LINX device can be removed at any time with another procedure.
Common LINX Questions & Answers
How Well Does LINX Work? A five-year study concluded in 2015 found the following long-term outcomes for patients with LINX implants:
- 85 percent of patients were free from daily GERD medication
- 99 percent of patients reported no debilitating regurgitation
- Patients reporting bothersome heartburn dropped from 89 percent to 11.9 percent
- Patients reported a significantly higher quality of life
How Long Does LINX Last? LINX is designed to be a lifelong implant. It can be removed if needed and doesn’t limit a patient’s future treatment options.
What are the Side Effects? The most common side effect is difficulty or discomfort swallowing that usually goes away as patients heal from the procedure.
Will I Need to Avoid MRIs and Metal Detectors? Most LINX patients can still have an MRI. But you will need to discuss your LINX with your doctor and imaging technician prior to testing. As for x-ray machines like at airport security, they should not be triggered by a LINX implant. But just to be safe, patients should carry their Implant Card with them at all times—given to you at the time of your procedure, the Implant Card has information about the type and model of device.
Am I a Candidate for LINX? You will need to have a few tests to see if you are a candidate for a LINX implant. To schedule an appointment call (816) 823-0698.