OHSU Surgeons Are First In The Country To Use New 'Incision-Less' Surgery To Stop Acid Reflux Disease

02/23/11  Portland, Ore.

Millions of Americans with painful acid reflux disease can now choose to forego lifelong medication in favor of a newly approved, noninvasive procedure that provides a long-term fix.

Surgeons in the Oregon Health & Science University Digestive Health Center are the first and only in the United States to use a newly FDA-approved procedure known as EsophyX transoral fundoplication to stop the debilitating symptoms and complications of gastroesophageal reflux disease, or GERD, which affects some 14 million Americans every day.

GERD develops when the muscular sphincter located at the end of the esophagus is absent or defective. The sphincter, or valve, allows food to pass into the stomach and prevents stomach acid from backing up into the esophagus. When the valve is defective, the esophagus is repeatedly bathed in stomach acid and becomes inflamed, leading to esophageal bleeding or ulcers, or a host of other potential complications, including, in some cases, esophageal cancer.

"Until now, most patients have attempted to manage their GERD with lifelong medication, regular check-ups, diet and other lifestyle changes," explained Blair Jobe, M.D., an associate professor of surgery (general surgery) in the OHSU Digestive Health Center, OHSU School of Medicine. "Laparoscopic antireflux surgery is extremely effective, but is expensive and invasive, and not routinely recommended by primary care physicians, so we've only been treating a fraction of the total number of patients afflicted with gastroesophageal reflux ‑ usually those with the severest form of disease. The approval of EsophyX will open the door to anatomical, long-term correction of the esophageal sphincter for all categories of GERD patients."

Joseph Caligure II (Ron), 54, of Monmouth, Ore., a physical education teacher at Willamina Middle School in Grand Ronde, Ore., has struggled with the crippling symptoms of GERD for more than 20 years. He says it never occurred to him that surgery was an option until Doug Skarada, M.D., of Salem recently referred him to OHSU.

"For years I've had this terrible cough, especially when I talk a lot or when I'm eating. Sometimes I cough so much I throw up," Caligure said. "I've tried GERD medications but I still have a cough. I'm hopeful this procedure will finally fix that."

"Laparoscopic surgery to restructure the esophageal, stomach junction and prevent GERD symptoms remains the gold standard treatment. However, with EsophyX, we now can surgically repair defective elements of the gastroesophageal track without a single incision, through the mouth, allowing for faster healing with fewer complications," said John Hunter, M.D., Mackenzie Professor Surgery and Chairman of Surgery, OHSU Digestive Health Center, OHSU School of Medicine. 

Hunter and Jobe work with a dedicated group of anesthesiologists, nurses and operating technicians to accomplish this new innovative approach.

EsophyX was created by Stefan J.M. Kraemer, M.D., M.B.A., chief medical officer, founder, and vice president for Medical Affairs and Procedure Development at EndoGastric Solutions. To view an animated demonstration of the procedure, go to http://www.endogastricsolutions.com/index.php?src=gendocs&ref=EsophyX&category=About_EGS&submenu=Esophyx

For more information about the OHSU Digestive Health Center, go to