Fixing Heartburn: No Need for the Knife

EsophyX TIF stops acid reflux without making a patient go through surgery

/ Author:  / Reviewed by: Joseph V. Madia, MD

(RxWiki News) For some people, dealing with their heartburn is as easy as taking an over-the-counter drug. For others the problem is severe enough to require surgery to fix their heartburn. However, doctors have a way to get rid of heartburn without making patients go under the knife.

EsophyX TIF is a procedure that can put an end to heartburn without making patients go through traditional surgery, which can have a long recovery time. The procedure not only has less risks than other surgical treatments, but it also effectively stops heartburn.

"Surgeons can fix heartburn without cutting you open."

When a person swallows, a sort of gate in the esophagus opens to let food pass to the stomach. Once the food is through, the gate closes so that food and stomach acids cannot go back into the esophagus. This gate malfunctions in people with heartburn, or acid reflux.

According to Hiran Fernando, M.D., a cardiothoracic surgeon at Boston Medical Center, over-the-counter drugs can help patients deal with the symptoms of acid reflux. However, Fernando notes, they can still be hurt by the disease.

The EsophyX TIF procedure allows surgeons to repair or rebuild the broken barrier, which eliminates reflux, says Benjamin Havemann, M.D., a gastroenterologist at Scott & White Healthcare.

Dr. Fernando concludes that this procedure may be the answer for heartburn patients who are unhappy with their current treatments and are worried about the long-term effects of taking drugs.

While EsophyX TIF is still not a common procedure in many hospitals, more doctors are starting to offer the treatment.

In Depth

  • EsophyX TIF is a procedure in which a device is inserted through the mouth and into the esophagus, which means that surgeons do not have to cut open patients. The device - which has a camera attached to it - is used to form and fasten a few folds of tissue to repair or make a new valve between the esophagus and stomach.
  • This new valve keeps keeps stomach contents (acids and food) from traveling out of the stomach and back up the esophagus.
  • In recent studies, patients who underwent the procedure reported an 80 percent improvement in quality of life. After TIF procedure, all patients stopped taking heartburn drugs. After two years, 79 percent of patients were still completely off their daily heartburn medication.
  • So far, TIF patients have not experienced serious side effects. What's more, recovery is a breeze. While most patients can go back to work the day after the procedure, some have to wait a few days. 
Reviewed by: 
Review Date: 
April 21, 2011
Last Updated:
April 25, 2011