Published on November 15, 2016

A permanent, pill-free solution to chronic acid reflux

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After LINX for his chronic reflux, Bill Becker is happy and back doing the things he enjoys

"Now I can eat just about anything," Bill Becker says. But it wasn't that long ago that eating and drinking just about anything—including water— would often give Bill uncomfortable, unhealthy acid reflux.

For 15 years, Bill took esomeprazole (Nexium) to reduce stomach acid. This is one of a group of drugs called proton-pump inhibitors (PPIs) designed to reduce production of stomach acid. Despite the drug's proven effects, over the past five years, Bill's symptoms continued to plague him requiring a double dose daily often supplemented with over-the-counter antacids.

"I couldn't lie down and had to sleep in a recliner," remembers Bill. "I work in heating and air conditioning. Working outside and in tight quarters, or bending over would often trigger reflux. I like to hunt, but the last few years I limited my hunting because I didn't feel good and didn't want to worry about hauling around all my pills."

Bill heard about an innovative procedure offered at Gundersen Health System called LINX. It's a minimally invasive surgical option for those who:

  • Have severe heartburn not helped by PPIs
  • Have incomplete control or increasing symptoms with PPIs
  • Experience significant side effects with PPIs
  • Are concerned about the effects of long-term, high dose use of PPIs such as increased risk for fractures, chronic kidney disease, heart disease and other issues

How LINX works

Shanu Kothari, MD, FACS, Gundersen General Surgery.

The LINX system uses a ring of titanium beads magnetically interlinked. The device is placed around the lower esophageal sphincter (LES) located between the stomach and esophagus. The LES is the body's natural barrier to reflux. In a person with a weakened LES, the ring enhances the function to prevent reflux.

In January 2016, Gundersen surgeon Shanu N. Kothari, MD, FACS, performed the LINX procedure on Bill. "Immediately after surgery, I felt so much better," recalls Bill. "I have no dietary restrictions. I find that I'm eating better, I have more energy and I'm off 100 percent of my medications."

Benefits of LINX

As Bill discovered, LINX offers patients many benefits, including:

  • Unlike the more traditional Nissen fundoplication surgery, there's no anatomical alterations to the stomach, patients can eat solid foods right away and it minimizes gas-bloat syndrome.
  • For most patients LINX is a same-day, minimally invasive procedure.
  • Unlike PPI therapy, it addresses the primary source of this disease, an ineffective LES.

"The LINX procedure is not for everyone," says Dr. Kothari, "but for the right patient LINX offers lasting relief for a condition that can significantly impact quality of life."

To see if LINX could be right for you, call the Gundersen Surgery Clinic at (608) 775-2331 to schedule an appointment with one of our reflux specialists.