News 9 MD: Simple procedure helps GERD patients - Western Mass News - WGGB/WSHM

News 9 MD: Simple procedure helps GERD patients

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Acid Reflux Disease, a condition commonly known as GERD, affects about one-third of Americans.

It can cause pain, coughing, heartburn - and can even lead to cancer.

In today's News 9 MD, a simple procedure may fix GERD for good. 

For 12 years, Kathy Dickinson lived with the painful symptoms of GERD.

"It would happen in the morning," says Dickinson. "It would happen after I ate. It would happen at night, it was, and it just progressively got worse and worse and worse."

GERD happens when the lower esophageal sphincter weakens, and allows food to flow up. For Dickinson, it meant coughing, pain, and no sleep.

"When your whole esophagus is burning, and you can't sleep because of it, it's really bad," she says.

Dr. Mark Noar told Dickinson about a procedure to fix GERD.

"It helps people get off medications. It's safe, and at the same time, it eliminates their symptoms," says Noar. 

With the Sretta procedure, patients are sedated. Doctors insert a catheter down the throat, and deliver radio frequency energy to stimulate tissue and strengthen muscles.

"The sphincter muscle begins, gets thicker, stronger, so it won't open as easily."

In a recent study, researchers found 76 percent of patients no longer had reflux 10 years after the procedure, and 41 percent were off meds.

Bob Davis had the Stretta procedure. "I reduced my medicine by three pills a day!" He says.

And Dickinson, who also had the procedure, no longer has GERD symptoms.

"Now, it really is something that's not part of my life anymore," she says.

The study also found 85 percent of those with Barrett's esophagus—a pre-cancerous condition that can develop in GERD patients—no longer had the condition 10 years after having the Stretta procedure.

None of the patients studied developed esophageal cancer. 

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