Gastro-oesophageal Reflux

Heartburn (a burning feeling behind the breastbone) or acid reflux are common symptoms. The vast majority of sufferers can manage their symptoms either by altering their lifestyle (cutting down on cigarettes and alcohol, losing weight) or taking over-the-counter antacid medications. However, many sufferers require prescription medication from their GP. In a proportion of these, medication does not control the symptoms, and surgery should be considered.

Patients with reflux often, but not always, have a hiatus hernia. In this condition, the hiatus or opening in the diaphragm through which the oesophagus passes is too wide, and part of the stomach slides up into the chest. The aim of surgery is to pull the stomach back down into the abdomen, narrow the hiatus to the correct size with stitches, and finally wrap the top of the stomach (or fundus) around the lower oesophagus to form a new anti-reflux valve. This operation is called a fundoplication. Usually the patient is in hospital for 24-48 hours, and back at work in 2-3 weeks.

Bob Marshall can talk to you about operations for reflux in detail.

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