Beaded Ring Around Esophagus May Prevent GERD: The LINKS™ System
You may never have heard of GERD. It's an acronym for gastroesophageal reflux disease; it's also known as acid reflux disease. It means that contents of your stomach re-enter your esophagus after you eat. This is often experienced as heartburn, but symptoms vary from throat irritation, chest pain, hoarseness, wheezing, and chronic cough. GERD is not just uncomfortable; it can cause serious problems in your esophagus, leading to Barrett's Esophagus, and possibly to esophageal cancer.
Twenty million Americans suffer from GERD. Though there are some treatments available for GERD, they are mostly palliative. There is no cure for GERD, but a study is going on to test a medical device called LINX,™ an implant placed around a patient's lower esophageal sphincter, that allows the patient to swallow food and release air, but prevents food or stomach acids from being refluxed.
The device is a ring of permanent rare earth magnets linked together like a small bracelet. When implanted through laparoscopic surgery around the base of the esophagus, the surgeon custom-fits the bracelet for the patient's esophagus. The magnetized beads are designed to pull together to prevent reflux.
A laparoscopy is a minimally invasive surgery, required just a small incision, so the LINX insertion only requires 20 - 30 minutes in surgery. The device's manufacturer, Torax Medicinal, Inc., will evaluate the safety of the medical device in about 100 patients at several testing hospitals.
A reader sent me a link to information about the LINX study after reading my last column, which covers Barrett's Esophagus and esophageal cancer. Thank you, B.C. for the tip!
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