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Phoebe Sumter Performs First Incisionless Surgery to Treat Heartburn

Americus, GA | September 29, 2022 – Almost everyone will experience heartburn at some point in their lives. However, 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.

Phoebe General Surgeons Kristin Tott, MD, and Jeremy Joyner, MD, recently performed the transoral incisionless fundoplication (TIF®) procedure at Phoebe Sumter Medical Center using the innovative EsophX® device for the treatment of gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD).

“The TIF procedure can significantly improve the quality of life for our patients who are suffering from frequent heartburn. It serves as a long-term and safe alternative to the traditional surgical treatment and we are thrilled to be able to offer patients this treatment option close to home,” said Dr. Tott.

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.

“Many people change their eating habits due to acid reflux or they have to take daily medication. GERD is a common disease that impacts many people and offering this treatment option will be a great benefit to patients in and around Sumter County,” added Dr. Joyner.

Dr. Tott and Dr. Joyner are not the only Phoebe Physicians to perform the TIF procedure. In Albany, Phoebe General Surgeon, Dr. Jason Langer, and Phoebe Gastroenterologist Dr. Srinivas Gunturu have previously performed the incisionless procedure. To find out if you are a candidate for the new TIF procedure, talk to your primary care physician.

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.