Acid reflux treatments

Treats the cause of GERD, repairs hiatal hernia, paraesophageal hernia

When diet and medication no longer control chronic heartburn – also known as acid reflux and gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD) -- acid reflux procedures may be your best option. Duke esophageal surgeons perform minimally invasive procedures that repair the underlying cause of GERD as well as hiatal hernias and paraesophageal hernias. We are also one of the only North Carolina centers to offer simpler acid reflux procedures which avoid some of the side effects of traditional heartburn surgery. These procedures ensure you experience lasting relief.

Understand your acid reflux treatment options

Untreated GERD can cause serious medical problems, including painful irritation of the esophagus called esophagitis, and strictures, which narrow the esophagus and make it harder to swallow. Untreated GERD can also cause Barrett’s esophagus, a change in in the lining of your esophagus, which has been linked to esophageal cancer. The first approach to treatment typically includes:

  • Lifestyle and diet changes, which offer some relief from chronic heartburn, bloating and belching.
  • Over the counter antacids and prescription medicines, including proton pump inhibitors, which reduce the amount of acid produced in the stomach. However, studies show the long-term use of proton pump inhibitors may impact your body’s ability to absorb nutrients, and increase your risk of bone fractures.

These treatment options can’t fix the underlying problem when a hiatal hernia is present, or if the cause is a weak, ineffective muscle at the bottom of your esophagus. Acid reflux procedures repair your weak esophagus muscle, as well as a hiatal hernia, which occurs when the stomach and other abdominal organs enter the chest area through the esophagus.  The presence of a hiatal or paraesophageal hernia allows acid to flow freely into the esophagus and may cause additional symptoms including nausea, vomiting, chest pain, heartburn and difficulty swallowing. 

New procedures treat GERD

Several procedures are available to treat GERD, and range from Stretta, which requires no incisions to a new, minimally invasive procedure called LINX, which avoids some of the side effects of traditional heartburn surgery, such as bloating or inability to vomit.

Because these procedures are relatively new, their availability is limited. Duke surgeons are among the only GERD specialists in North Carolina offering Stretta and LINX to treat acid reflux. Since not everyone is a candidate, we perform a comprehensive evaluation of your condition and recommend the most appropriate treatment for your medical needs.

Choose a surgeon who specializes in acid reflux

Advanced training, experience, and volume – meaning the number of procedures performed -- count when choosing a surgeon to treat your acid reflux.

  • Duke esophagus surgeons complete advanced training in esophageal surgery as part of their thoracic fellowship training. As thoracic surgeons, their area of specialty is the chest. Advanced esophageal surgical training means they are highly skilled in major esophageal surgeries and procedures.
  • As a high volume center, people are often referred to our surgeons for management of GERD and its symptoms and travel to us from nearby regions.
  • Duke was the first center in North Carolina to implant the LINX device. Our surgeons have more experience performing this procedure than any other center in the state.
  • We use robotic surgical technology, which provides better visualization and instrumentation, to perform advanced and complex minimally invasive heartburn surgery



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