By Mia Brabham
Sponsored by Sentara Northern Virginia Medical Center
One of the most astonishing parts of medicine is that it’s ever-changing, evolving, and growing. Luckily for Prince William County, the area is getting a new surgery which will change many peoples’ health and lives for the better.
Sentara Northern Virginia Medical Center is delighted to introduce a new procedure to the hospital and the region named LINX, which treats gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD). According to NIH, it’s estimated that about 20% of people in the U.S. have GERD. LINX is a remarkable alternative to surgical anti-reflux procedures often associated with unpleasant symptoms . After the LINX procedure, according to Johnson + Johnson, 85% of patients no longer depend on heartburn medications.
Dr. Jacqueline Moore, General Surgeon with Sentara Surgery Specialists, is the cutting-edge surgeon in charge of LINX surgery in Woodbridge and Stafford. Here, she answers questions about GERD and the highly effective procedure that is aiding patients with chronic digestive pain.
PWL: What is GERD, and how do you know if you have it?
DM: Gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD) — more commonly referred to as heartburn and/or regurgitation — is a digestive disorder in which stomach acid washes back into the esophagus (commonly known as “acid reflux”). This is usually due to a weakness in the ring of muscles, such as the lower esophageal sphincter (LES), that closes the esophagus (the muscular tube through which food and drink pass from the mouth down into the stomach). Acid reflux can be very irritating to the esophagus and causes a variety of symptoms. These symptoms include heartburn, sour taste in mouth, burning chest pain directly beneath the breastbone, regurgitating previously digested food especially when bending over or lying down; excessive belching, excessive salivation, and a chronic dry cough. The diagnosis of GERD is most often made based on symptoms, but other studies are needed to confirm the diagnosis before surgery.
PWL: What is LINX?
DM: LINX is the copyrighted name for The LINX® Reflux Management System — a laparoscopic procedure that spares the upper portion of the stomach. The anti-reflux procedure is ideal for patients diagnosed with GERD. In addition, it is a flexible ring of magnets that encircles the lower esophagus in order to keep the ring of muscles (the lower esophageal sphincter or “LES”) closed so that reflux cannot occur.
PWL: When was LINX developed, and how?
DM: LINX is an FDA approved device developed in 2012 as an alternative to other surgical anti-reflux procedures such as fundoplication. Fundoplication has been the “gold standard” surgery for GERD. However, it is often associated with unpleasant symptoms such as excessive bloating, gassiness, difficulty swallowing, and recurrence of GERD symptoms after 10 years. Recently, five-year studies have demonstrated the efficacy of LINX for treating GERD and the results are impressive! Eighty-five percent of LINX patients no longer depend on heartburn medications for relief. Most patients will be free of heartburn and regurgitation after LINX surgery!
PWL: How is LINX different from other surgical anti-reflux procedures?
DM: LINX is a relatively newer procedure compared to fundoplication, but the concept is similar, preventing GERD symptoms by restoring the lower esophageal sphincter. The key is that LINX does not alter the stomach anatomy and is associated with fewer undesirable symptoms such as bloating and gas. Currently, patients desiring LINX must travel outside of the area; that’s why I’m so excited to offer this surgery. There is a need for surgical alternatives to treat GERD and now patients don’t have to leave Prince William County to receive it.
PWL: Can GERD be treated without LINX or another type of surgical procedure?
DM: Many people who suffer from GERD will achieve acceptable to excellent control of their symptoms with lifestyle modification and medications such as over the counter options. However, lifestyle and medication do not address the mechanical cause of reflux disease: the ineffective LES. In fact, up to 40% of patients continue to have symptoms while on medication! LINX is a wonderful option for the surgical treatment of GERD, It should be considered by patients who have issues with medications, who still experience regurgitation, and who know they want surgery but are reluctant due to the issues associated with a fundoplication.
Getting Treated for GERD
PWL: How can readers schedule this procedure at Sentara?
DM: Patients can self-refer or request a referral from their physician. To schedule a consultation to discuss GERD and surgical treatment options, please call Sentara Surgery Specialists (703-523-9550). A consultation will take about 30 minutes and we will discuss symptoms, concerns, goals for treatment, and surgical options.
Mia Brabham is an author, writer, and media host. Her debut book, Note to Self, is a short collection of life lessons that is the hands of readers all over the world. Mia is also the host of Two In The Morning, a podcast that explores and unpacks the cultural questions that keep us up at night. You can find her on Instagram and Twitter, or at bymiabrabham.com.