What is acid reflux?
Acid reflux is a condition where acid from your stomach travels up into your oesophagus (gullet). This happens if the valve between your stomach and the oesophagus does not work effectively. Acid reflux can cause ‘heartburn’ or acid in the back of your mouth (see figure 1).
What are the benefits of surgery?
You should get relief from symptoms of acid reflux without needing to take medication.
Are there any alternatives to surgery?
Medication that lowers the acid content in your stomach is effective at controlling symptoms and healing inflammation. Surgery is recommended only if the symptoms continue or if you would prefer to have an operation than take medication for the rest of your life.
What does the operation involve?
The operation is performed under a general anaesthetic and usually takes one to two hours.
Your surgeon will make several small cuts on your abdomen. They will place surgical instruments, along with a telescope, inside your abdomen and perform the operation.
Your surgeon will stitch your diaphragm to reduce the size of the hole your oesophagus passes through. They will wrap and stitch the top part of your stomach around your lower oesophagus.
What complications can happen?
1 General complications
- Unsightly scarring
- Developing a hernia in the scar
- Infection of the surgical site (wound)
- Blood clots
2 Specific complications
- Damage to internal structures
- Developing a hernia near one of the cuts
- Surgical emphysema
- Making a hole in your oesophagus or stomach
- Tear of the stitches used for the wrap
- Damage to your liver
- Damage to your spleen
- Difficulty swallowing for a few months
- Continued difficulty swallowing
- Incomplete control of reflux symptoms
- Weight loss
- Abdominal discomfort
How soon will I recover?
You should be able to go home the next day.
You should be able to return to work after three to four weeks, depending on the extent of surgery and your type of work.
Regular exercise should help you to return to normal activities as soon as possible. Before you start exercising, ask the healthcare team or your GP for advice.
You should make a full recovery, with the symptoms of acid reflux gone or much improved.
Acid reflux can cause heartburn or acid in your mouth. The acid can cause the lining of your oesophagus to become inflamed or scarred. Surgery may be recommended if your symptoms continue while you are taking medication.
Author: Prof Simon Parsons DM FRCS (Gen. Surg.)
Illustrations: Medical Illustration Copyright © Medical-Artist.com
This document is intended for information purposes only and should not replace advice that your relevant health professional would give you.