WHAT IS GERD? HOW IS THE CONDITION DIAGNOSED?
Gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD), or acid reflux, is a common condition where acid from the stomach backwashes into the esophagus. Common symptoms include heartburn, indigestion, sensitivity to acidic foods or drinks, regurgitation, and atypical chest pain. Most patients are diagnosed initially by their primary care provider due to complaints of heartburn or excessive belching. A dentist or otolaryngologist may also suspect GERD due to acid exposure on the patient’s teeth or vocal cords. The most common diagnostic test for GERD is an upper endoscopy. Other tests can directly monitor pH or demonstrate reflux on X-ray.
HOW IS GERD TREATED? SURGERY VS MEDICATION:
Patients generally achieve some degree of relief using medication (antacids, H2 Blockers, or Proton Pump Inhibitors). Many, however, achieve only temporary relief or require increasing doses of medication due to worsening symptoms. In these instances, surgical therapy should be considered. Others may consider surgery if diagnosed with a large hiatal hernia or Barrett’s esophagus.
In my practice, I routinely perform Laparoscopic Nissen Fundoplication, a minimally invassive surgical technique, which can help cure reflux. This proceudre has been in existence for many decades, has shown consistent positive patient outcomes, and remains the most commonly performed and best tolerated procedure.
Postoperative patients often tell me how much better their life is following surgery. They had not previously appreciated how significantly they altered their lifestyle due to their symptoms.
It should be noted, however, that patients with a Body Mass Index over 40 may be better served by undergoing gastric bypass, which addresses the weight and is curative for GERD.
WHAT IS YOUR PERSONAL APPROACH TO PATIENT CARE?
My goal with every patient is to help them feel comfortable with me, answer their questions, and ease their concerns. I use photos and drawings to describe anatomy and surgical procedures. I want patients to leave my office feeling informed and comfortable with their choices. Any individual who allows a surgeon to operate is forever a part of that surgeon’s soul. I want my patients to do well and look back at their surgery as a positive experience in their lives.
Dr. Dexter performs all aspects of general surgery and has a particular interest in minimally invasive and daVinci® robotic surgery. To schedule an appointment, call 941-254-6767.