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Phoebe Performs First Incisionless Surgery to Treat Heartburn

Albany, GA | April 14, 2022 – More than 20 million Americans suffer with daily heartburn or other symptoms of reflux such as regurgitation, chronic cough, hoarseness and dental erosions. Normal treatment usually includes a lifetime of daily medications or the risks of invasive surgery, until now.

Jason Langer, DO, Phoebe Physicians General Surgeon, recently performed the first transoral incisionless fundoplication (TIF®) procedure at Phoebe Putney Memorial Hospital using the innovative EsophyX® device for the treatment of gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD).  Phoebe is the first hospital in southwest Georgia to offer this innovative incisionless surgery to patients.

“With patients suffering from frequent heartburn and dependent on anti-acid medications, the TIF procedure serves as a long-term and safe alternative to the traditional surgical treatment,” said Dr. Langer. “Recent studies of the TIF procedure have shown that it can reduce patients’ dependency on medications with 75% of patients completely off their daily medications after three years and experiencing a dramatic improvement in their quality of life.”

The TIF procedure is based on established principles of surgical repair of the anti-reflux barrier, except that it is “surgery from within” performed through the mouth with an endoscope—the same equipment used to diagnose GERD. The procedure reduces a hiatal hernia and rebuilds the valve between the stomach and esophagus restoring the natural, physiological anatomy to prevent GERD. Because the procedure is incisionless, there is reduced pain, reduced recovery and no visible scar. Often, patients also need hiatal hernia surgery. In those cases, typical surgery will still be required but can be performed at the same time as the incisionless TIF procedure.

“At Phoebe, we are always working to bring new services and procedures to our region. GERD is a common disease that impacts many people, so we are excited to offer this incisionless treatment option to our patients,” said Dr. Suresh Lakhanpal, CEO, Phoebe Physicians. “We plan to expand as more general surgeons and gastroenterologists perform this new procedure.”

GERD is a chronic condition in which the gastroesophageal valve (GEV) allows gastric contents to reflux (wash backwards) into the esophagus, causing heartburn and possible injury to the esophageal lining. GERD is the most common gastrointestinal-related diagnosis made by physicians during clinical visits in the U.S. It is estimated that pain and discomfort from acid reflux impacts over 80 million Americans at least once per month. The standard recommendations for symptomatic GERD patients include lifestyle changes (e.g., diet, scheduled eating times and sleeping positions) and escalating doses of prescription medications for prolonged periods of time.