Dr.Chirag Thakkar

GERD / Acid Reflux / Heartburn: Does surgery really solve the problem?

Acid reflux is a problem that troubles a large number of people. Many of them are very young, and find themselves in a state of inefficiency at work due to this problem. Is surgery an ideal solution to there problem or it is just a gimmick? Lets discuss.

I encounter a large number of these patients, taking medications for years for heartburn and acid reflux. Still not feeling completely normal. On and off have a bad day due to heartburn and either have to skip work or continue suffering at work place. Missing medication for a day brings very harsh punishment for these people. Thus starts their search for an effective solution to their problems.

The problem of acid reflux, if it has been very convincingly confirmed with endoscopy and pH study, certainly gets cured by a laparoscopic surgery. The problem is many a times people have additional digestive issues like constiaption and IBS (Irritable bowel syndorme) along with acid reflux. The person may require medications for these conditions even after surgery. If these conditions are not recognised before surgery and explained to the patient, they are likely remain dissatisfied with the surgery.

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Even larger is the problem of misdiagnosis. If someone having IBS or constipation or functional problems are wrongly diagnosed as acid reflux (which is quite possible even with experienced doctor if complete evaluation is not done) and a surgery is considered, then they are not likely to benefit from the surgery. And hence we always recommend to get a complete work up including an endoscopy, esophageal manometry and 24 hr pH study before surgery. So that we can pick the patient who is unlikely to get benefited from surgery and avoid the surgery.

All in all, those finding themselves stuck in this situation, should not feel hopeless. Should get themselves thoroughly evaluated. If these tests confirm the diagnosis of acid reflux, then should consider laparoscopic surgery with the confidence of leading a normal life after that.

Watch some of our videos to understand these problem and solution in a way that you would understand better. Directly form the ones who have faced it.