Antireflux and Esophageal Surgery


In anti-reflux surgery, or fundoplication, the esophagus is tightened at the lower sphincter, preventing stomach acid from reaching the esophagus. Both types of surgeries can be done as an open surgery or laparoscopically. What is it? Anti-reflux surgery is performed to alleviate acid reflux disease or gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD). Acid reflux occurs when the tube that connects the stomach and the esophagus is weak and does not close enough. This causes the patient to experience severe heartburn, burping or gas bubbles, or stomach pain felt in his or her throat or chest. Typically when patients receive this surgery, doctors will take the top of the patient’s stomach and stitch in around the esophagus. This procedure helps seal the patient’s stomach/esophageal connection.

How to Prepare?

If you are receiving anti-reflux esophageal surgery, it is important that you follow the eating and drinking restrictions set by your doctor to avoid complications with anesthesia. At the same time, your doctor should be informed on the medications you take and conditions you have so that it can be included in the treatment plan. Certain medications like NSAIDS, aspirin, and vitamin supplements should be stopped for a week prior to the surgery as should smoking. Finally, arrange for someone to drive you home post-operation.

What Happens during the Process?

During surgery, the patient will have an intravenous line inserted into a vein to deliver medications and then put under anesthesia. Throughout the surgery, the patient will be asleep and will not feel anything until they wake up. The procedure is meant to reinforce the connection between the esophagus and the stomach by wrapping the upper part of the stomach around the esophagus. Doctors do this by making two small incisions in the abdomen. Using a laparoscope doctors can see the organs and operate inside the patient without having to make any large incisions. After several hours the patient will exit surgery and enter the recovery room.

Risks and Complications?

There are common risks associated with almost any surgical procedure, including reactions to anesthesia and excessive bleeding during or after surgery. Some specific risks involved with Anti-Reflux Esophageal Surgery are temporary difficulty swallowing, may need a procedure to stretch a patient’s esophagus, difficulty burping or vomiting, bleeding or infection, and injury to stomach, esophagus, or other internal organs.


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