Published on December 18, 2019

Concord Hospital Offers a New Option for Patients Suffering From Reflux

Patients suffering from reflux now have a new option at Concord Hospital – one that can control the condition in most patients without daily medication or extensive surgery.

A small device called LINX is implanted around the esophagus, the tube that carries food from the mouth to the stomach. It enables a valve in the esophagus to open for food to pass to the stomach, then closes it to prevent food, stomach acid or bile from flowing back up.

LINX is a string of small magnetic titanium beads forming a ring around the lower end of the esophagus, where it connects to the stomach. In normal swallowing, muscles at that site allow food to pass through, then close the esophagus. In people with reflux, the muscles, or lower esophageal sphincter, malfunction, allowing stomach contents to escape. Reflux can damage the esophagus, throat and lungs.

The LINX ring is about the size of a quarter. The strength of the magnets holds the ring gently snug around the esophagus to prevent reflux. During swallowing, the beads separate temporarily, opening the valve to the stomach. It is implanted in a minimally invasive procedure that takes approximately an hour, called a Magnetic Sphincter Augmentation. LINX is designed to be a lifelong implant.

Dr. Stacie Perlman of Concord Hospital Medical Group Concord Surgical Associates, who performs the procedure, said it has several advantages over the other treatment options: medication and a procedure called a Nissen fundoplication, in which the esophagus is wrapped tightly.

Most LINX patients, she said, can stop taking medications and avoid their side effects. LINX also provides for the normal function of the esophagus, unlike the Nissen wrap, which maintains a constant pressure around it, preventing reflux, but also preventing patients from being able to burp to relieve pressure in their stomach, or vomit because of other illness.

LINX patients can go home the day of the procedure instead of being admitted to the Hospital as with the wrap treatment and can return to normal eating right after surgery. Dr. Perlman said there also is less chance of recurrence of reflux with the LINX device and lower cost for care after the procedure. Some reflux patients prefer medication – even with the side effects – to avoid wrap surgery.

LINX is an option that can avoid both, though not all patients are candidates. For some, the Nissen wrap is a better option. The LINX procedure can help anyone who has basic reflux as long as they don’t also suffer from other dysfunction of the esophagus and don’t have a large stomach hernia. Stomach hernias are typical in reflux patients.

To schedule an appointment, call Concord Surgical Associates at (603) 224-0584.