LINX Reflux Management System
Anatomy of swallowing food
When we swallow, our food travels down the esophagus to the stomach. When the food enters the stomach, a valve or ring of muscle called the lower esophageal sphincter (LES) closes to keep the food in the stomach.
What is Heartburn?
Heartburn is acid reflux that occasionally occurs when you eat spicy or acidic foods, fried or fatty foods, caffeine, and alcohol. Eating a large meal or eating before bedtime can cause these symptoms. Smoking and obesity contribute to the problem. More than 60 million Americans experience heartburn at least once a month. Heartburn can be treated with lifestyle changes and over-the-counter medications designed to decrease stomach acid production.
Typical heartburn symptoms include:
- a burning sensation in the chest that can last for hours
- a sensation of pressure or pain that gets worse when you lie down or bend over
- an acid taste in the throat
- a feeling that food or pills are stuck in your throat or the middle of your chest
What is Gastroesophageal Reflux (GERD)?
GERD is a chronic and often progressive disease where stomach acid and bile back up into the esophagus due to a weak LES. The acid irritates the esophagus and causes heartburn.
Persistent heartburn symptoms that occur several times a week and do not improve with over-the-counter medications and changes to your diet are GERD. In addition to heartburn, hallmarks of GERD are regurgitation and dysphagia, or a sensation that food is stuck in your esophagus.
GERD is a more serious condition that substantially impairs quality of life.
Left untreated, GERD can cause complications, including inflammation of the esophagus, pain, and a disease called Barrett’s Esophagus (BE), where the esophagus lining erodes. BE can lead to esophageal cancer. BE is more common in white men, people older than 50, smokers, and obese people.
Surgical Treatment Options for GERD
A laparoscopic Nissen Fundoplication (LNF) is a surgery where the top of the stomach is wrapped around the LES to reinforce the sphincter and reduce acid reflux. LNF is the gold standard surgical treatment for GERD. However, it is a long and more invasive surgery, permanently alters the anatomy of the stomach, and is not reversible. Patients say in the hospital for 2-3 days, and recovery can take 4-6 weeks and involve dietary restrictions for a period after surgery.
What is LINX?
The LINX Reflux Management System is a surgical procedure that lessens the effects of GERD. LINX was designed to stop reflux at its source by restoring the body’s natural barrier, the Lower Esophageal Sphincter (LES). LINX is a small, flexible band composed of titanium beads with magnetic cores. The band is placed around the LES through a laparoscopic procedure. The magnets hold it shut, which stops stomach acid from breaking the seal. However, the magnetic force is still weak enough that swallowing can loosen it before it reconnects. This allows food and other necessities to enter the stomach and continue natural bodily function.
How Does It Work?
The magnet ring keeps the LES closed to prevent reflux but is flexible to allow swallowing. When you swallow, the beads open to allow food and liquids to pass into the stomach and close immediately after swallowing to prevent reflux. It is useful for mild, moderate, and severe GERD treatment.
For the implant process, the patient is placed under general anesthesia. The surgeon uses a sizing tool to determine which LINX system should be implanted. Then, the band is placed around the LES by suture tails, and the surgeon connects the ends securely.
What Are the Benefits of LINX?
LINX is a simple, standardized laparoscopic procedure that does not alter gastric anatomy, provides relief of reflux-related symptoms without impeding the ability to burp or vomit, and is reversible if necessary. It is a shorter surgery, with reduced side effects and less need for reoperation. Most patients can return home the same day as the surgery.
Advanced Surgical and Bariatrics of New Jersey is pleased to offer our patients the LINX procedure. It can help you return to a normal lifestyle, reduce or eliminate GERD and its symptoms, eliminate the need for medications, and you can return to a normal diet.
Who Is a Good Candidate for LINX Reflux Management System?
- Patients who have found that medication is unsuccessful at managing symptoms.
- Patients who find that diet and lifestyle changes have not relieved symptoms.
- Patients with persistent symptoms of GERD significantly impair their quality of life.
- Patients who desire to stop taking medications and want a more permanent solution.
How Can I Prepare for a Linx® Procedure?
To determine if you are a suitable candidate for LINX®, our doctor will perform an endoscopy, a pH test, or an esophageal motility study to verify how severe your GERD is. A thorough physical evaluation will also be performed to assess your overall health. Before you undergo a LINX procedure, our specialist will inform you of all the preparatory steps required for a successful surgical treatment. These will include:
- Avoid eating or drinking for a certain period before the procedure
- Abstain from smoking or using tobacco products for at least a few weeks before the surgery
- Ask a close relative or a friend to take care of you for a few days after the treatment
What Is the Recovery Time and Follow-Up?
You will require 3 to 4 months to recover after your LINX® procedure fully. During your stay in the recovery room, our specialists will place an oxygen mask over your face to provide your body with enough air. When your lungs are ready, a nasal cannula will be placed inside your nostrils to deliver additional oxygen. All necessary medications, fluids, and nutrients will be delivered directly into your body via intravenous administration. Sequential compression devices will be wrapped around your legs to help stabilize blood flow and prevent blood clots. To avoid postoperative complications, certain self-care guidelines are necessary to follow, including:
- Starting moderate consumption of regular foods the day after your treatment to prevent difficulty swallowing
- Abstaining from driving for about 2 weeks
- Exercising your lungs to prevent pneumonia
- Applying cold compresses to your incisions
- Taking laxatives to prevent constipation
- Avoiding strenuous physical activity for about 6 weeks
- Avoiding swimming, taking a bath, or otherwise soaking your incisions for 2 weeks
Several follow-up appointments with our surgical specialist will be required after the procedure to monitor your diet and recovery. During your visits, our doctor will also perform a status check on your LINX® device.
Advanced Surgical and Bariatrics of New Jersey has offices in Somerset, Marlboro, East Brunswick, and Princeton, serving the New York and New Jersey area. All patients receive state-of-the-art care with cutting-edge techniques, including laparoscopic (minimally invasive) and robotic bariatric surgical techniques. Contact us to find out if you are a good candidate for LINX.