Procedure offers relief from acid reflux

CORAL SPRINGS, Fla. – For decades, Michael Hegge suffered from heartburn that gradually progressed to acid reflux.

“When it got bad, the acid would be all up in my throat and mouth and it had me coughing and choking so bad I couldn’t breath. I would vomit and it was just ridiculous,” Hegge said.

He reached a point where prescription medications were only providing limited relief.

“Reflux is stuff coming from the stomach up into the esophagus, and what those medications do is they make it so you can’t feel those chemicals coming up in the esophagus so people feel their symptoms are solid and their reflux is improved, but they’re still having reflux,” said Dr. Mark Schachner at Broward Health Coral Springs.

Schachner said a minimally invasive procedure called ‘LINX’ can actually fix the problem, not just mask it like medication.

The procedure involves placing a small magnetic device made up of interlinked titanium beads around the lower esophagus which allows food to go down, but keeps it from coming back up.

“We’ve been able to get 85 to 90 percent of our patients off medications, and over 95 percent of patients are really happy with that,” Schachner said.

Hegge said the procedure made a major difference in his quality of life.

“It’s like night and day, it’s like heaven for me now after having all these problems for 30 years. I’m a normal person again,” he said.

Special tests are done prior to the procedure to check the strength of the esophagus.

If it’s weak, the LINX approach may not be the best option, but Schachner said there are other procedures that can help patients with chronic acid reflux.

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