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BMC Surgeons Bring Advanced Treatment for Heartburn to New England

14 million Americans endure acid reflux or gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD) daily
BMC is one of only two hospitals in New England to offer the
new TIF surgical procedure to treat heartburn

For some, heartburn is only a mild inconvenience, but for others it is a daily agony that can only be controlled through constant medication and a careful diet. It is estimated that 14 million Americans currently endure the daily symptoms of acid reflux also known as gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD). Now Boston Medical Center (BMC) is offering lasting relief from this common complaint through a new minimally invasive procedure.

Normally after swallowing, a valve between the esophagus and stomach opens to allow food to pass, then it closes to prevent food from flowing back into the esophagus. With GERD, this valve is weakened or absent, allowing stomach acids to reflux into the esophagus. Complications from chronic reflux include esophageal ulcers, bleeding and scarring of the esophagus and in some patients, a potentially pre-cancerous condition called Barrett's esophagus.

Using a new surgical technique called the Transoral Incisionless Fundoplication (TIF) procedure, BMC surgeons can view the valve between the esophagus and stomach with an endoscope and repair or reconstruct the weakened muscle through the patient's mouth. This procedure effectively stops GERD without the need for any incisions and reduces hospital stay and recovery period compared to standard surgery. BMC was the first hospital in New England to offer the procedure, which is performed in BMC's Center for Minimally Invasive Esophageal Therapies led by Hiran Fernando, M.D., a cardiothoracic surgeon and director of the Center.

"While over-the-counter medications may alleviate reflux symptoms by decreasing production of stomach acid, they don't solve the anatomical problem. Reflux (without acid) can still continue causing injury but without symptoms to warn the patient," says Fernando. "For patients who are dissatisfied with pharmaceutical therapies and are concerned about the long-term effects of over-the counter medications, this procedure may be the answer."

BMC's Center for Minimally Invasive Esophageal Therapies specializes in the diagnosis and treatment of a wide range of diseases including GERD, esophageal cancer, Barrett's esophagus and motility disorders of the esophagus such as achalasia or diverticula. With a highly skilled, multidisciplinary team and state-of-the-art facilities, the Center offers a comprehensive course of treatments including medication, open surgery and minimally invasive techniques.

Visit BMC's Center for Minimally Invasive Esophageal Therapies to learn more or call 877.930.2288.