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TMH Living Well: Stretta therapy great option for treating GERD

The Memorial Hospital

If you are one of the estimated 1 in 3 Americans who suffer from GERD (gastro-esophageal reflux disease), you know how miserable it can be. You likely experience terrible heartburn and a burning sensation in your chest and throat. Do you regurgitate your food or find it difficult to swallow? Do you experience chest pain or a constant sour taste in your mouth? You might even dread eating, as you know you will pay for it later. Whatever your symptoms, they no doubt affect your quality of life, every single day.

With GERD, stomach contents flow up into the esophagus, the tube that connects the throat to the stomach.

“GERD is usually caused by a weakness in the lower esophageal sphincter (LES). Essentially it is a one-way valve that relaxes when we eat and swallow, then clamps back up when we are done. It can stop working for various reasons,” said Dr. Jeff Womble, general surgeon with The Memorial HospitalThe Memorial Hospital..

The Memorial Hospital.

GERD has earned the title of the most frequent outpatient diagnosis in the United States. Treatment often starts with over-the-counter medicines to reduce acid and block acid production. If these don’t work, prescription medications are tried. If these fail, endoscopic and laparoscopic procedures may be indicated. The least invasive of these procedures is Stretta.

“Stretta is a minimally-invasive therapy that uses radiofrequency (RF) to stimulate LES muscles to grow bigger and stronger. The thickening of the muscle reinforces the sphincter’s mechanism to keep acid from washing up into the esophagus,” Womble said.

The 40-minute procedure carries a low risk of complications, as it does not damage the esophageal lining. Most people who get the procedure are back to work within a day.

“Most with reflux symptoms are a candidate for Stretta. It can mean ending symptoms and getting off medicines. People don’t have to fail previous therapies before they can try Stretta. Even if your symptoms are controlled with medication, Stretta can get you off the medication thereby avoiding the side-effects that can happen,” he added.

Several studies are supporting great results with Stretta. Clinical trials found that more than 80 percent of patients were able to quit medications and experience improved symptoms within two to six months. As the muscle continues to thicken, more relief is experienced over time. The therapy provides long-term relief for approximately four to 10 years or more.

The Society of American Gastrointestinal and Endoscopic Surgeons reviewed and endorses the use of Stretta for GERD.

If you are interested in learning more about the Stretta procedure, talk with your doctor about receiving a referral to one of TMH’s general surgeons to discuss whether or not it’s a good fit for you.

For more information, call 970-826-2420 and ask to schedule an appointment with either Dr. Driggs or Dr. Womble.


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