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Vidant/ECU surgeons offering procedure to treat acid reflux

June 28, 2017 by Amy Holcombe

GREENVILLE –Vidant Medical Center and the Brody School of Medicine at East Carolina University are offering an outpatient procedure to cure acid reflux using the LINX® device. Dr. Carlos Anciano, assistant professor of thoracic and foregut surgery and director of minimally invasive thoracic surgery at ECU, and his partner Dr. James Speicher, assistant professor of thoracic surgery, are the only physicians in Vidant Health’s 29-county service area that perform the surgery. 

LINX® is a quarter-sized beaded titanium device that is inserted during a minimally-invasive laparoscopic surgery. It stops stomach acid from entering the esophagus from the moment it is implanted. Unlike other procedures to treat reflux, LINX® is implanted around the outside of the Lower Esophageal Sphincter (LES) and does not alter the anatomy of the stomach. The procedure preserves normal physiological function, allowing food to pass through.

Many commercial health insurance companies are covering the cost of the procedure.

Prior to the availability of this device, the treatment for patients diagnosed with Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease (GERD) was frequently a lifetime prescription of anti-reflux medication to reduce the acidity level in the stomach. Anciano said the surgical options commonly known as fundoplication have considerable rates of recurrence and a wide range of side effects.  

“Pills do not address the cause of reflux, or prevent it; they are merely a Band-Aid for the symptoms,” Anciano said. “Patients deserve an option to avoid taking medications for the rest of their lives that have extensive long-term side effects. They deserve to have a choice, with a procedure that addresses the problem, not masking it but providing a solution.” 

The National Institute of Health (NIH) data shows 40-50 percent of the population will suffer severe heartburn symptoms at some point. More than 70 percent of these will seek relief via over the counter antacid medications without consulting a physician.  

Anciano noted that there has been a 600 percent increase in the incidence of esophageal cancer in the U.S. in the last 20 years. He said that uncontrolled acid reflux can lead to potentially serious complications, including esophageal strictures, Barrett’s esophagus (pre-cancer), esophageal cancer and chronic irreversible pulmonary disease.

To make an appointment with Anciano or Speicher, call 252-744-4536.

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