Acid Reflux and GERD

My name is Brian DaCosta Gill. I’m an MD and I’m a board-certified general surgeon. I practice in Utah County at Timpanogos Regional Hospital. Gastroesophageal reflux is a very common diagnosis in the United States. In fact, the pharmaceutical company loves it because PPIsor proton pump inhibitors are new, well not new anymore. They’re a few decades old, but when they came out they became one of the top selling pharmaceutical prescriptions.

These cut down the acid production in the stomach and can cost a patient anywhere from $80 a month to a couple hundred dollars a month depending on their dependence on that to decrease the acid in their stomach and to decrease their heart burn symptoms or their reflux symptoms. Surgery, through new minimally invasive robotic techniques, can decrease the need to even be on the pills.

The unfortunate thing about acid reflux is all of us experience it a little bit, especially as we gain weight. The first thing I talk to my patients about is losing weight and hopefully being able to control it so that they don’t have to be on daily medication. However, most patients that have this problem are maintained on daily proton pump inhibitors or PPIs, sometimes twice daily. This is gonna be for the rest of their life.

Surgery offers a chance to get off of the medicine, and when we do the surgery, it’s a short stay, less than 24 hours in the hospital. You do have to alter your diet for a few weeks as the swelling goes down after the surgery, but most of our patients are thrilled to do that at the exchange for their daily or twice daily pills. Then the results last, they last a long time. Some patients never have to go back on medicine and about 20% do find themselves needing intermittent medication within the first five years after surgery.

The surgery now is so non-invasive that I even have patients that come back to me and say,”You know, 10 years ago you did this surgery. “It worked so well for me for eight years. “The last two years I’ve been back on my daily” antacids and my proton pump inhibitors. “Is there any way we could do it again?”I just want to go back to the”way it was after the surgery. “And so we do and with minimally invasive surgery and with a robotic technique, we’re able to go back in and do re-do surgery and give those patients another drug-free interval of years so they don’t have to have the treatment.