If gastroesophageal reflux disease, or GERD, symptoms don't improve with a combination of lifestyle changes and prescription medications, providers may recommend types of surgical or procedural interventions. However, surgery is not likely to resolve GERD symptoms in patients who have not responded to medications, and is more likely to cause complications than medication. Surgery may be strongly considered for patients who respond well to medications, but do not want to have to take them long-term.
This is currently the most common surgery for GERD, and in most cases, it leads to long-term reflux control. Fundoplication is done using a laparoscope, which is a thin tube with a tiny video camera. The top of the stomach is attached around the esophagus to add pressure to the lower esophageal sphincter, or LES, and reduce reflux. This surgery is done under general anesthesia and usually includes a hospital stay of one to three days. Full recovery typically takes two to three weeks.
A small number of people with GERD may benefit from endoscopic sewing and radio frequency. Endoscopic sewing uses small stitches to tighten the LES muscle. Radio frequency creates heat lesions, or sores, that help tighten the sphincter muscle. These endoscopic techniques are not as common or as effective as fundoplication for treating GERD. However, an endo-surgical technique that places a chain-like ring around the LES to tighten the LES muscle is being used more frequently and with greater success than other endoscopic techniques.