Gastro-Oesophageal Reflux Disease (GORD), is a chronic, often progressive condition resulting from a weak Lower Oesophageal Sphincter (LOS). The LOS is a ring of muscle at the junction of the oesophagus and stomach that prevents acid or bile rising back up the oesophagus from the stomach. In people with GORD, the LOS is weak, allowing acid and bile to flow back or ‘reflux’ from the stomach into the oesophagus.
Symptoms of GORD include heartburn, regurgitation, sore throat, cough and chest pain – these can be severe and persist over time. Other telltale symptoms of GORD include nausea, cough, asthma, and voice hoarseness.
Many people are successfully treated with medical therapy, in fact a class of acid suppressing drugs called Proton Pump Inhibitors (PPIs) are one of the most common drugs prescribed by GPs in the UK. These reduce the acidity of the material that is refluxed up, though do not necessarily reduce the volume that’s entering up the oesophagus from below.
Many people with more advanced GORD often get little or no relief from PPIs and need to consider a surgical option. The traditional surgical approach to treating GORD is called a fundoplication, this prevents reflux by wrapping part of the stomach around the oesophagus to recreate the LOS.
In specialist and experienced hands the fundoplication is a very good and safe operation for many patients, and 90% achieve a cure or significant improvement in their symptoms. However there are some side effects which can Linxinclude gas bloat and the inability to belch or vomit. Some patients choose not to have a fundoplication because of these side effects. Over the years various surgical and non-surgical alternatives have been proposed and tried. However, until now few of these options struck the right balance between safety and efficacy. None gave the same effective barrier to reflux that the fundoplication did. So what has changed?
The LINX is a small, flexible ring of interlinked titanium beads with magnetic cores that helps the sphincter at the top of the stomach resist opening to gastric pressures, creating a barrier to the reflux of acid and bile. At the same time, it is calibrated so that when a patient swallows food, the swallowing forces temporarily break the magnetic bond to allow food and drink to pass normally through the sphincter. The magnets then close the sphincter immediately after swallowing to restore the body’s natural barrier to the reflux of acid and bile. Clinical studies have shown the The LINX® System is effective, with 9 out of 10 patients no longer needing to take PPIs whilst having very few, short lived side effects. It is also simpler to put in with much less cutting and dissection required than in a traditional fundoplication.
The LINX starts to work as soon as it is in place and patients can resume a normal diet within a few hours of surgery and return to normal activities in less than a week. The LINX device offers a new treatment option for GORD, reducing or eliminating symptoms through a simple procedure. We will be offering The LINX® System as an option to GORD patients from now on.