Surgery for acid reflux sufferers

(CBS) One out of 10 Americans has heartburn on a regular basis. For many, the cause of the problem is gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD), commonly known as acid reflux.

Now doctors at Swedish Medical Center in Englewood, Colo., are doing a new procedure that corrects the problem in a minimally invasive way, reports CBS Station KCNC correspondent Dr. Dave Hnida.

"It's really exciting technology," said general surgeon Dr. Reginald Bell.

Esophyx is a new device that allows doctors to fix the problem that causes acid reflux and rebuild the valve between the stomach and the diaphragm by going through the esophagus.

"Previously, we've had to do it surgically with incisions in the abdomen," said Bell.

It was an invasive surgery that required extended recovery. Now doctors say they can reduce recovery times and completely fix the problem, so many patients can come off their acid reflux medications.

Patient Dick Gordon rarely suffers from heartburn, but his acid reflux aggravated his asthma and caused other issues. "Sometimes I have this full feeling. You feel like something is going on in there," he said.

"The reflux has caused erosion of my voice box, too, so I tend to have a bit of a foggy voice," he added.

Gordon is hoping the Esophyx procedure will ease his chronic cough and asthma flare-ups. And he was a perfect candidate for the surgery because the damage to his esophagus was not extensive. Dr. Bell was able to rebuild the valve without any problems.

This procedure is designed for people in the early stages of acid reflux, allowing more patients to get the problem fixed early on.

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