Acid reflux: A guide to your treatment options

Written by: Mr Omar Khan
Published: | Updated: 13/03/2019
Edited by: Nicholas Howley

We asked specialist consultant upper GI and bariatric surgeon Mr Omar Khan to give us an up-to-date overview of the treatment options available if you have acid reflux, including some of the latest procedures practised at a handful of clinics in the UK.

 

Acid reflux, otherwise known as heartburn or gastroesophageal reflux disease (GORD) is a chronic condition where stomach acid passes into the oesophagus, causing a variety of symptoms including pain and regurgitation. It affects approximately 20% of the population.

If you’ve tried to make lifestyle changes to tackle the symptoms but have been unsuccessful, you may need medical treatment. Treatment for acid reflux has improved significantly in recent years, and now there are a wide range of options:

Medication

Medication for acid reflux is effective for many patients. Antiacids can be purchased over the counter and work by neutralising your stomach acid. If this doesn’t work, you can ask your doctor for alternative medication such as foaming agents or H2 medication that is stronger than antiacids. You’ll usually need to take this medication for a couple of months, and possibly in the long term if it’s effective.

However, if you have severe symptoms which are interfering significantly in your life, your doctor might recommend surgery.

Read more: Medication for acid reflux

Conventional surgery

Until recently, surgery for acid reflux has normally involved a major abdominal operation called fundoplication. The procedure effectively wraps the stomach around the oesophagus, and is commonly known as anti-reflux surgery.

Unfortunately, there are often side effects to the procedure, including difficulty eating solid foods or excessive bloating. Some patients may need further surgery to loosen the wrap.

For this reason, there is increasing interest in less invasive approaches.

Read more: Anti-reflux surgery

LINX Reflux Management

The LINX reflux management system is a minimally-invasive surgical procedure which involves inserting a magnetic barrier ring around the base of the oesophagus. This helps to stop the acid in your stomach from travelling back up the oesophagus. The major advantage of this procedure is that patients can eat a normal diet afterwards.

The LINX reflux management system takes about an hour to install. At the moment, there are a small number of surgeons in the UK practising the technique but this is predicted to grow.

Read more: LINK reflux management system

The STRETTA procedure

STRETTA is another new procedure involving inserting an endoscope via the mouth and strengthening the muscles around the bottom part of the oesophagus. This is done with electromagnetic waves that create radiofrequency energy to cause inflammation and to thicken the stomach lining, affecting the nerves there.

This technique has the advantage of avoiding any incisions and can even be done without the need for general anaesthesia.

Read more: STRETTA procedure

Mr Omar Khan is a leading consultant GI surgeon and one of two surgeons in London offering both Linx and STRETTA for acid reflux management. To book a consultation with Mr Omar Khan, click here.

By Mr Omar Khan
Surgery

Mr Omar Ahmed Khan is a specialist consultant upper GI and Bariatric surgeon  based in  London and Surrey. He works privately at Parkside Hospital in Wimbledon and St. Anthony's, Sutton; as well as in Surrey at  Ashtead Hospital and Mount Alvernia, Guilford.

His areas of expertise include; weight loss (bariatric) surgery, gallbladder surgery, gastric reflux and hiatal hernias and abdominal wall hernias

Mr Khan graduated  from the University of Cambridge in 1997 and went on to complete his surgical training (as well as a PhD in Obesity and Cardiovascular Sciences and a law degree). He then completed a bariatric fellowship before being appointed as a consultant at St Georges Hospital, London, one of the leading teaching hospitals in the United Kingdom, where he is currently the Upper GI surgical lead.

Mr Khan is an honorary senior lecturer at the University of London and has published over 160 book chapters and peer-reviewed articles. He lectures nationally and internationally on weight loss surgery and his research has been published in the Lancet and covered in the national and international press. . He has a particular interest in patient safety- he is on the national committee for the UK National Bariatric Registry and  is frequently asked to act as a medicolegal expert.

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