When is GERD surgery necessary?

When patients with GERD have tried over-the-counter medicine without success, surgery is often the next option. In this video, Joseph Burnette, MD, of Coliseum Medical Centers, explains when that decision is best for the patient.
Lawrence S. Friedman, MD
Medication and lifestyle changes can successfully control 95% of gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD) cases, but for a few patients, surgery is the best option. For example, surgery might be preferable for younger patients who want to avoid taking drugs known as proton pump inhibitors (PPIs) for many years. However, the relief provided by surgery may not be permanent, and medications might be necessary again at some point.

Other indications for surgery are occasional cases of erosive esophagitis that do not improve with drug therapy, strictures that recur despite treatment, or pneumonia or recurrent respiratory problems due to acid reflux that don't improve with drug therapy. The goal of surgery is to tighten the lower esophageal sphincter (LES) -- the muscle connecting the esophagus and stomach that acts as a barrier to protect the esophagus against the backflow of gastric acid from the stomach. The operations are generally effective and can eliminate the need for all GERD medications for some time.

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.