Local News

New Procedure Helps Acid Reflux Sufferers To Stop Taking Pills

Posted April 13, 2005 2:02 a.m. EDT

— About half of American adults experience symptoms regarding gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD) every month and 20 percent have problems every week. The Food and Drug Administration recently approved a new procedure that helps many people end their dependence on pills.

Lunch or any other meal for 24-year-old engineer Jody Thompson used to lead to problems.

"I was having persistent heartburn," Thompson said.

Thompson was diagnosed with GERD, which occurs when the sphincter muscle separating the esophagus from the stomach stops acting like a one-way valve. Acid from the stomach goes up and causes pain.

The problem got worse, so Thompson turned to prescription medications, which worked. But, he did not like the idea of being dependent on pills.

Thompson's doctor suggested Enteryx. Under anesthesia, an endoscope goes down and injects a liquid polymer at the sphincter muscle leading to the stomach.

"The liquid polymer becomes a soft, spongy implant once it meets tissue," said gastroenterologist Dr. Bulent Ender. "It then alters the sphincter function and reduces or eliminates the sphincter reflux."

Thompson had problems swallowing at first, but once he recovered, minor heartburn popped up only once every other week.

"For me, it was definitely worth it. I'm just one of those people that just doesn't want to take medicine for the rest of my life. I don't like being dependent on a pill every day," Thompson said.

Not everyone is a good candidate for the procedure. For some people, symptoms go away if they lose weight or reduce their intake of alcohol, caffeine, chocolate and fats. GERD is more prevalent in the elderly, and they may not mind taking medication to relieve the symptoms.