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MCCG Announces Two New Procedures for Those with Acid Reflux

MCCG Announces Two New Procedures for Those with Acid Reflux

Preventative Measures Assist with Reflux, Could Minimize Cancer Risk 

MACON, GA (Monday, September 16, 2013) - Gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD), commonly known as acid reflux, is the most prevalent gastrointestinal disease in the U.S., and one of the most important in terms of its chronicity, overall cost, adverse impact on quality of life, and potential for complications, such as Barrett's esophagus and esophageal cancer. Now, two new procedures at The Medical Center of Central Georgia (MCCG) will help patients with GERD, even to the point of preventing esophageal cancer.

GERD is a chronic, often progressive disease resulting from a weak lower esophageal sphincter that allows harmful gastric fluid to reflux into the esophagus, causing both pain and injury to the esophageal lining. GERD is associated with a pre-cancerous condition known as Barrett's esophagus, which increases the risk of esophageal cancer. Barrett's esophagus occurs when the esophagus is chronically exposed to gastric contents of the stomach. With prolonged acid exposure, normal cells in the esophagus can undergo a genetic change and are then vulnerable to further changes that can lead to cancer. Esophageal cancer is currently the fastest growing form of cancer in the United States.

A groundbreaking new treatment at MCCG may prevent esophageal cancer. Physicians at MCCG now perform endoscopic radiofrequency ablation therapy, using the BARRX System. The procedure was recently featured in the New England Journal of Medicine as a highly effective treatment for complete eradication of Barrett's esophagus, a condition that affects one to two million adults in the U.S. each year. The treatment destroys pre-cancerous tissue caused by GERD in the lining of the esophagus.

“The main purpose of the ablation procedure is to ablate, or remove, the abnormal lining of the esophagus. The tissue then regenerates and normal tissue grows back. This markedly reduces the chances of cancer developing. Data from studies shows that the treatment is highly effective,” said Dr. Adam Levy of Gastroenterology Associates of Central Georgia.

During the procedure, an ablation catheter (BARRX360 or BARRX90 Ablation Catheter) is positioned on the abnormal esophageal tissue. Using the BARRX Energy Generator, the physician delivers a rapid burst of ablative energy which removes a very thin layer of the diseased esophagus. The procedure is performed in an outpatient setting, without incisions, and takes less than 30 minutes on average.

“Previously, physicians could use ablation therapy to remove or destroy pre-cancerous tissue, but the technology had limitations and wasn't widely used. The BARRX System provides uniform and controlled ablative therapy, which not only removes the abnormal cells but also allows for regrowth of normal cells. It's also easier to effectively treat patients using the BARRX System, without injuring healthy underlying tissue,” said Dr. Fady Wanna, Chief Medical Officer at MCCG. 

Esophageal cancer is often incurable because the disease is frequently discovered in the advanced stages. Esophageal cancer has a five-year patient survival rate of just 16 percent.

“It usually starts with GERD, which can cause Barrett's disease, which can lead to esophageal cancer. That's why it's important to seek medical treatment for symptoms of GERD, the most common being heartburn,” said Dr. Wanna.  

Patients suffering from GERD who have not progressed to the point of Barrett's disease may benefit from  a second therapy now offered at MCCG.

GERD is caused by a weak muscle in the esophagus that allows acid and bile to splash up from the stomach into the esophagus. By implanting the FDA-approved LINX Reflux Management System through a minimally invasive procedure, physicians at MCCG can stem the effects of chronic acid reflux.

The LINX System is a small implant comprised of interlinked titanium beads with magnetic cores. The magnetic attraction between the beads augments the existing esophageal sphincter's barrier function to prevent reflux, restoring the body's natural barrier to reflux.

“Although numerous prescriptions are available to treat patients with GERD, the medications minimize the production of gastric acid but do not repair the damaged muscle. Though this reduces the acid content of material regurgitating into the esophagus the LINX system eliminates the reflux stream entirely.” said Dr. William Fackler of The Georgia Gastroenterology Center.

The LINX system is inserted through a small incision in the abdomen. The procedure generally takes less than one hour, and the device begins working immediately. Following the procedure, patients will see a drastic reduction in the symptoms of GERD, and may resume a normal diet.

The combined use of the LINXReflux Management System and the BARRX System is changing the lives of those suffering from acid reflux, or GERD, who choose treatment at MCCG. State-of-the-art technology is one of the many ways MCCG is striving for superior patient outcomes.