Skip to content

    Heartburn/GERD Health Center

    Select An Article

    Treating Heartburn With Surgery

    Font Size
    A
    A
    A

    For most people, heartburn is a treatable symptom. Frequent heartburn may indicate acid reflux or gastroesophageal reflux disease, also known as GERD. When treatment doesn't work and heartburn is severe despite lifestyle changes, surgery may be an option. It may also be an option if GERD causes other medical problems. Minimally invasive procedures using endoscopy are also available to treat acid reflux.

    When to Consider Surgery for GERD

    The vast majority of people with GERD can control heartburn symptoms adequately without surgery. A few people, though, still have acid reflux symptoms even after treating them with medications, lifestyle, and diet changes. For these people, surgery helps.

    Heartburn that doesn't go away despite maximum non-surgical treatment is the most common reason to consider surgery for GERD. Other situations where surgery may be an option include:

    All surgical procedures carry risk. So generally, GERD surgery should be considered only after other treatment has not worked and tests suggest there's a good chance surgery will succeed.

    Most people, if not everyone, considering surgery for GERD will first undergo endoscopy. Many will also have tests to check the muscle function of the esophagus. These tests can include esophageal manometry and esophageal motility studies.

    Types of Surgery for GERD

    The main surgery performed for persistent heartburn is called fundoplication. The surgery involves several steps:

    • The surgeon first cuts into the abdomen. He or she will either make one large incision for open surgery or a few small incisions for laparoscopic surgery.
    • In laparoscopic fundoplication, the surgeon operates from outside the body using tools inserted into the abdomen. During open fundoplication, he or she operates directly using his or her hands.
    • The surgeon wraps the top part of the stomach around the lower part of the esophagus and sews it in place.
    • This tightens the lower esophagus. That helps prevent acid from moving from the stomach into the esophagus and causing acid reflux.
    1 | 2 | 3
    Next Article:

    Today on WebMD

    Woman eating pizza
    How it starts, and how to stop it.
    man with indigestion
    Get lifestyle and diet tips.
     
    woman shopping for heartburn relief
    Medication options.
    man with heartburn
    Symptoms of both.
     
    digestive health
    Slideshow
    Heartburn or Heart Attack
    Article
     
    heartburn
    Article
    stomach acid rising
    Article
     
    Woman eating pizza
    Slideshow
    digestive myths
    Slideshow
     
    Extreme Eats
    Slideshow
    Bowl of pasta and peppers
    Slideshow