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Good-bye heartburn and heartburn medication

Most people experience occasional heartburn or acid reflux, especially after eating a big meal or spicy food. But for Janell Nichols of Sparta, acid reflux was a nearly constant source of discomfort.

"I would wake up three or four times a night because of reflux," Janell recalls. " I would wake up in the morning with a sore throat and my mouth felt hot."

Janell tried several things to alleviate the problem: sleeping elevated on a wedge-shaped pillow, eliminating caffeine and trying to remove potential trigger foods from her diet.

Medications for reflux

Although she doesn't like taking medications, Janell finally relented and started taking a daily dose of omeprazole (Prilosec). Omeprazole is a proton pump inhibitor (PPI) which reduces the production of stomach acid. While Janell had some improvement of her symptoms, she still often had to take antacids before bedtime and in the night.

"I was also concerned about the long-term effects of the medication," she explains. Some people do well on PPIs, even long term. But studies show that using PPIs long term is associated with increased risk for low magnesium levels, kidney disease, vascular problems, fractures and other health risks.

Janell went looking for a better solution. She met with Erin Connolly, RN, NP, at Gundersen's Surgery Clinic. "She gave me a lot of information about the LINX procedure," recalls Janell. "Erin was compassionate, knowledgeable and thorough."

LINX is 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

How LINX works

GERD results from a weak lower esophageal sphincter (LES), the body's natural barrier to reflux located between the stomach and esophagus. With LINX, a magnetically interlinked ring of titanium beads is placed around the LES to enhance its function and prevent reflux.

LINX offers many benefits, including:

  • Unlike traditional Nissen fundoplication surgery there's no anatomical alterations to the stomach, it's potentially reversible, patients can resume a normal diet right away and it minimizes gas-bloat syndrome
  • It's a same-day, minimally-invasive procedure that takes less than an hour
  • Unlike PPI therapy, it addresses the primary source of the problem—an ineffective LES

"I put off a decision to do more research about LINX and check out other options. I even consulted with another hospital," Janell explains. "But then I met with Dr. [Shanu N.] Kothari at Gundersen. I learned Dr. Kothari had a lot of experience with the LINX procedure and travelled the country as a LINX educator. His positive attitude that the LINX procedure was right for me made the difference."

So, in 2018 Janell had the LINX procedure at Gundersen. "Prior to surgery I was just so miserable. I didn't feel well, and I had no energy," Janell remembers. "The day after surgery I felt so much better. It was immediate. I felt like I had my life back."

If off her medication Janell has no reflux. Clinical data confirms what patients like Janell report.

The LINX procedure has been shown to:

  • Allow complete elimination of PPI medications for most patients
  • Resolve reflux symptoms in most patients
  • 99 percent of patients reported no bothersome heartburn affecting sleep
  • 97 percent of patients required no change to their diet due to heartburn
  • Have high patient satisfaction

"LINX was the right thing for me. If you have reflux, consider the LINX procedure," encourages Janell.

If you're concerned about a lifetime of medication and potential side effects, it might be time to look at LINX.

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

Love + Medicine

Every day, Gundersen Health System staff deliver great medicine plus a little something extra—we call it Love + Medicine.

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