Simple procedure fixes acid reflux disease

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Acid reflux disease - a condition commonly known as "gerd,” affects about one-third of Americans. It can cause pain, coughing, heartburn - and can even lead to cancer.

Now, a simple procedure may fix gerd for good.

For 12 years, Kathy Dickinson lived with the painful symptoms of gerd. “It would happen in the morning. It would happen after i ate. It would happen at night, it was, and it just progressively got worse and worse and worse.”

Gerd happens when the lower esophageal sphincter weakens and allows food to flow up. For Kathy, it meant coughing, pain and no sleep.

“When your whole esophagus is burning, and you can’t sleep because of it, it’s really bad.”

Doctor Mark Noar told her about a procedure to fix gerd. “It helps people get off medications. It’s safe, and at the same time, it eliminates their symptoms.”

With the stretta procedure, patients are sedated. Doctors insert a catheter down the throat and deliver radiofrequency energy to stimulate tissue and strengthen muscles.

“The sphincter muscle begins, gets thicker, stronger, so it won’t open as easily.”

In a recent study, researchers found 72-percent of patients no longer had reflux 10 years after the procedure and 41-percent were off meds.

Bob Davis had the stretta procedure. “I reduced my medicine by three pills a day!”

Kathy had it too and no longer has gerd symptoms. “Now, it really is something that’s not part of my life anymore.”

The study also found 85 percent of those with Barrett’s esophagus — a pre-cancerous condition that can develop in gerd patients — no longer had the condition 10 years after having the stretta procedure.

None of the patients studied developed esophageal cancer. Doctor Noar says this could mean the procedure protects against cancer, but more research is needed to confirm that finding.