Acid Reflux (GERD)

Gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD) is caused by deterioration of the antireflux valve, which is the natural valve between the esophagus and stomach. Normally, after swallowing, this valve opens to allow food to pass. It then closes to prevent the stomach contents from coming back up (refluxing) into the esophagus. When the valve is not working properly, symptoms of GERD can occur. Factors that can contribute to the deterioration of the antireflux valve include excessive weight, diet, aging and injuries to the abdomen.

Signs of GERD

  • Pain, burning or discomfort in the chest
  • Burning in the mouth or throat
  • Regurgitation
  • Persistent coughing
  • Intolerance of certain foods
  • Frequent swallowing or clearing of throat
  • Yellow fluid or stains on pillow after sleep
  • Dental erosions or gum disease
  • Reflux-related sleep disorders

The above signs can also be symptoms of Barrett’s esophagus, a condition that occurs when chronic exposure to stomach acid causes the cells in the esophagus to change. Barrett’s esophagus often leads to esophageal cancer. More than three million people in the United States have Barrett’s esophagus disease, and many don’t know they have it. The good news is that GERD is easy to diagnose and, if found early enough, can be treated non-invasively to prevent symptoms and the progression of Barrett’s esophagus disease.

HALO Ablation Therapy

Barrett’s esophagus can be treated before it becomes cancerous, with a minimally invasive outpatient procedure called HALO. The HALO procedure uses heat energy (radiofrequency ablation) and EGD (upper endoscopy) to remove precancerous cells in the esophagus. The heat is precisely targeted to the abnormal area, to avoid damaging healthy tissue. The aim of the HALO procedure is to completely remove the abnormal lining of the esophagus, allowing new, healthy tissue to regrow within several weeks. A few treatments may be necessary.

TIF Procedure

While the HALO procedure lowers the risk of esophageal cancer, it does not treat the underlying cause of GERD. Persistent symptoms that do not satisfactorily respond to medication may require further treatment. A non-invasive procedure called TIF (Transoral Incisionless Fundoplication) treats the cause of GERD, by rebuilding the anti-reflux valve and restoring the body’s natural protection against reflux.

Benefits of the TIF procedure

  • No scars, due to incisionless approach
  • Faster recovery
  • Fewer adverse events and complications than traditional surgery

Surgeons at Henry Ford Allegiance Health have been successfully performing the TIF procedure to treat GERD since 2009. They are also experts in the Halo procedure. If you are experiencing signs of GERD, talk to your doctor. A test is available to see if you are a candidate for the TIF procedure.

Making lifestyle changes, such as avoiding problematic foods or starting a new bedtime routine, may help reduce the symptoms of your acid reflux.