How to Know if You Need Surgery for Gastro-Oesophageal Reflux Disease – and What to Expect

Surgery for conditions such as GORD, or gastro-oesophageal reflux disease, has become increasingly common. There may be a number of reasons for this, but one of the main reasons is because the symptoms of the disease have exacerbated, and the person has not responded well to either self-care or medication. If you have GORD and have tried all you can yet are still suffering from increasingly painful or uncomfortable symptoms, then anti reflux surgery may be your best option.

The definition of anti reflux or GORD surgery

Anti reflux surgery for gastro-oesophageal reflux disease is also referred to as fundoplication. It is a common method of surgery for the treatment of GORD. GORD usually occurs when the stomach acids are forced back to a person’s oesophagus, which, in turn, results in pain or heartburn and inflammation.

How to Know if You Need Surgery for Gastro-Oesophageal Reflux Disease – and What to Expect

For most of us, acid reflux does not occur because there is a so-called ‘barrier’. A part of the ‘barrier’ is the oesophagus’ lowest muscle, known as the lower sphincter. And whilst the lower sphincter of the oesophagus is usually contracted, those who have GORD have lower sphincters which function incorrectly or improperly. This means that the lower sphincter is either unable to relax properly or is weak.

With fundoplication or anti reflux surgery, the barrier is strengthened so that there is less of a chance of acid reflux even when the lower sphincter does not work properly.

When do you need surgery?

In general, GORD can be managed with a few changes in lifestyle (such as losing weight) or with medication, both over-the-counter and prescribed. But there are cases when GORD can no longer be managed or treated with medication or with lifestyle changes, and this is when surgery comes in.

There are basically three major reasons for surgery to be recommended or required: one, when you fail to respond well to medication, two, when you experience various side effects due to the medication you are given, and three, when you express the desire to no longer take medication for your GORD in the long term.

What to expect from anti reflux surgery

If it is your first time to be operated on for gastro-oesophageal reflux disease, it will most likely be carried out with the use of laparoscopic surgery procedures. Laparoscopic surgery is a lot less invasive than open surgery and does not require a long stay in hospital. It also requires less recovery time than open surgery.

What you should know is that most people who have GORD are also afflicted with a hiatus hernia, which is often related to gastro-oesophageal reflux disease. When you undergo anti reflux surgery, this hernia will also be repaired at the same time. The surgeon pulls the sac downwards from the patient’s chest and it is also stitched in order to stay within the patient’s abdomen. In addition, the diaphragm’s opening (where the oesophagus passes through) is secured and tightened as well.

Whilst the surgery is being done, the part of the patient’s stomach which is nearest to the entry of the oesophagus is collected and gathered, covered, and then stitched. This will then enhance the pressure at the oesophagus’ lower end, resulting in reduced acid reflux. The covering or wrapping – fundoplication, in other words – results in something similar to a one-way regulator or valve functioning for the oesophagus all the way to the patient’s stomach. Anti reflux surgery normally ranges from one hour to one and a half hours.

It is important to rely on the best care and expertise when undergoing anti reflux surgery. If you live in or near Surrey, you will be happy to know that anti reflux surgery in Surrey is available from experienced surgeons like Andrew Davies, a popular and respected private general surgeon in Surrey who is also affiliated with the London Surgical Group.

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