William C. Shiel Jr., MD, FACP, FACR
Dr. Shiel received a Bachelor of Science degree with honors from the University of Notre Dame. There he was involved in research in radiation biology and received the Huisking Scholarship. After graduating from St. Louis University School of Medicine, he completed his Internal Medicine residency and Rheumatology fellowship at the University of California, Irvine. He is board-certified in Internal Medicine and Rheumatology.
Dennis Lee, MD
Dr. Lee was born in Shanghai, China, and received his college and medical training in the United States. He is fluent in English and three Chinese dialects. He graduated with chemistry departmental honors from Harvey Mudd College. He was appointed president of AOA society at UCLA School of Medicine. He underwent internal medicine residency and gastroenterology fellowship training at Cedars Sinai Medical Center.
In this Article
- What is fundoplication?
- What happens during fundoplication?
- What are alternatives to fundoplication?
- Find a local Surgeon in your town
What happens during fundoplication?
During the fundoplication procedure, the part of the stomach that is closest to the entry of the esophagus (the fundus of the stomach) is gathered, wrapped, and sutured (sewn) around the lower end of the esophagus and the lower esophageal sphincter. (The gathering and suturing of one tissue to another is called plication.) This procedure increases the pressure at the lower end of the esophagus and thereby reduces acid reflux.
Also, during fundoplication, other surgical steps frequently are taken that also may reduce acid reflux. For instance, if the patient has a hiatal hernia (which occurs in 80% of patients with GERD), the hernial sac may be pulled down from the chest and sutured so that it remains within the abdomen. Additionally, the opening in the diaphragm through which the esophagus passes from the chest into the abdomen also may be tightened. Fundoplication may be done using a large incision (laparotomy in the abdomen or thoracotomy in the chest) or a laparoscope, which requires only several small punctures in the abdomen. The advantage of the laparoscopic method is a speedier recovery and less post-operative pain.
What are alternatives to fundoplication?
Although fundoplication is the standard surgical method for treating GERD, endoscopic methods for treating GERD have been developed. Endoscopy utilizes endoscopes, which are long flexible tubes that are swallowed by patients. The inside of the esophagus can be viewed through the endoscope and various instruments can be passed through channels in the endoscope.
In one endoscopic method for treating GERD, an instrument is inserted that delivers an electrical current to the lower esophageal sphincter. This results in scarring which tightens the sphincter. In a second method, sutures are placed in the sphincter to tighten the sphincter.
Other methods also have been employed experimentally. Although endoscopic methods offer a simpler way of treating GERD than fundoplication, there are many questions about how effective, safe, or long-lasting they are, and they are being performed and evaluated at a limited number of centers until these questions have been answered.
Last Editorial Review: 3/31/2009
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