New prodecure cures acid reflux without incision

December 17, 2010 4:47:00 PM PST
This is the season to eat, and for many, to suffer. Acid reflux causes some 60 million people to live on acid-blocking medicines. But one Houston doctor is "curing" acid reflux with surgery that doesn't require a single incision, and for those with reflux, a cure might be the best gift of the Christmas season.

Houstonians love spicy food.

"The spicier the better," spicy food lover Bryan Hommel said.

"Now have you ever had indigestion afterward or acid reflux?" we asked Hommel.

"Oh sure," he replied.

Even the manager of the Ragin Cajun, Dennis Jones, has acid reflux.

"It's just a constant burning; it feels like something you can't really get rid of it," Jones said. "It's really hot all down in here; even a glass of water will make it worse sometimes."

"Reflux is basically stuff from your stomach coming into your esophagus and causing heartburn, and it can irritate your throat, your sinus passages, can cause lung damage," said Dr. Erik Wilson with Memorial Hermann Hospital.

Antacids and acid blockers are only a temporary fix. Now, Dr. Wilson is doing a new non-invasive surgery to cure reflux -- repairing the valve between the esophagus and the stomach by going through the mouth.

"So we're not having to cut on the patient at all, so obviously there's less pain associated with the operation," Dr. Wilson said.

Elroy Crocker has been on reflux medications for a decade.

"Been through Prilosec, Aciphex, Nexium," Crocker said.

This week, he had the incision-free Esophyx procedure and says it was simple.

"It's like a sore throat was about the only thing I can remember," Crocker said.

The question is: After the surgery, can you really go back to the spicy foods you used to eat without paying the price?

"Once they're healed up they can eat what they want to eat," Dr. Wilson said.

Crocker says he looks forward to eating barbecue and spicy food.

"I did it anyways, it just was painful that's all," he said.

Dr. Wilson says some people may have to continue taking reflux meds. But for most, the pain is over.

If you have a burning sensation in your throat, acid indigestion two or more times a week, or you find antacids give you only temporary relief, doctors say you may have acid reflux.


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