Patients undergoing treatment for anti-reflux at London North West Healthcare NHS Trust (LNWH) are reporting significant improvements to their quality of life following surgery.
Anti-reflux surgery is a treatment for gastro-oesophageal reflux disease (GORD), a condition in which food or stomach acid comes back up from the stomach into the oesophagus (the tube from your mouth to the stomach).
GORD usually occurs when the ring of muscle at the bottom of the oesophagus becomes weakened causing symptoms such as heartburn and difficulty eating and drinking. The disease is often combined with the presence of a hiatus hernia.
Mr Alberto Isla, Laparoscopic Upper GI Surgeon at LNWH, said: “While for some people these symptoms are an occasional nuisance and can be controlled with medication, for others they can prove severe enough to impact on their quality of life.
“It's not always clear what causes the ring of muscle to become weakened, but certain things can increase the risk of it happening, including obesity, diabetes and smoking.”
Up to 70 patients a year undergo keyhole anti-reflux surgery at Northwick Park and Central Middlesex hospitals, which involves reconstruction of the valve between the oesophagus and stomach.
Mr Isla added: “For the past two years we have asked 150 patients to describe the severity of their symptoms before surgery, including heartburn, their ability to swallow and whether they have difficulties breathing. We then ask them the same questions six months after their surgery.
“The outcomes have been excellent and patients have seen a significant reduction in their troublesome symptoms and a vast improvement in their quality of life thanks to the surgery.”
Jasmine Walker from Harrow underwent anti-reflux surgery at Northwick Park Hospital in June 2015. The 58-year-old, who works as a nurse at Central Middlesex Hospital, says the surgery changed her life.
She said: “I suffered from acid reflux for a long time. Over time it got worse and I was struggling to eat certain foods as a result. I also had to sit up when I slept because I would regurgitate food and needed three or four pillows to keep me upright.
“When my hiatus hernia was confirmed it was treated with medication to begin with. This was not effective and Mr Isla recommended that I undergo surgery to repair the damage.
“The operation completely changed my life. I woke up the night after surgery and completely forgot about the problem as I was now able to sleep on one pillow. I don’t suffer any pain now and I have no problems eating or sleeping.”