Experts say as many as 50-million people suffer esophageal reflux each day. Reflux can appear in many forms, such as heartburn, regurgitation, chronic cough, hoarseness and dental erosion. Those who suffer from acid reflux usually end up on medication -- many times, that lasts for the rest of their life.
Others choose surgery. "The surgeries we had were good surgeries but had a lot of side effects," says Dr. Gregg Summers of Bay Medical Center. But he's excited about a type of acid reflux surgery that's new to this area. It's called Transoral Incisionless Fundoplication or T.I.F.
"This is a new technique that has fewer side effects and allows us to do the same type of surgery without an incision," says Dr. Summers.
Dr. Summers says gastroesophageal reflux disease or GERD is an anatomical problem which needs an anatomical solution.
T.I.F. reconstructs the body's natural physical barrier or valve, that stops acid from backing-up into the esophagus.
Dr. Summers inserts an endoscope equipped with an esophy-x device through the patients mouth. The device uses the patient's tissue to create the valve between the stomach and esophagus.
Long-time reflux sufferer Suellen Staub was Dr. Summer's first patient to have the procedure. "I thought, 'I'm a nurse. I've been in endoscopy for a long time. (I'm retired now.) I'm gonna have this done,'" says Staub.
It has now been a week since her surgery, and Saub says, so far, so good. Dr. Summers says if people can get a procedure done without incision they don't have to recover from, "it's a real plus for us."
Those who've had the procedure say they are now enjoying foods they've avoided for a long time.