An innovative surgical procedure that uses magnets to control acid reflux disease is effective and has few side effects, a new study shows.
The LINX Reflux Management System uses laparoscopic surgery to implant a magnetic ring that helps tighten the esophagus and prevent stomach acid from causing heartburn and other symptoms. Acid reflux is linked to serious conditions such as Barrett’s Esophagus and esophageal cancer, and is usually treated with medication. The system is marketed in the U.S. and Europe by Torax Medical, based in St. Paul, Minn.
For cases that don’t respond to medication, a surgical procedure that wraps part of the stomach around the esophagus can be effective, but can cause unpleasant side effects. For example, it is more difficult for patients to relieve bloating sensations by belching.
The new study, published in the journal Diseases of the Esophagus, examined 1,048 patients treated with the LINX device over a six-year period in 80 locations nationwide. The study found the device provided relief of acid reflux symptoms with minimal side effects. More than 85 percent of patients in the study stopped using anti-reflux drugs after having the LINX device implanted.
“This is one of the largest reviews of safety for anti-reflux surgery ever published. It provides further clinical evidence that LINX is a safe, minimally invasive option for patients who are concerned about the progression of their reflux disease and need an alternative to life-long medications,” said John C. Lipham, M.D., Chief, Division of Upper GI and General Surgery, Associate Professor of Surgery at the University of Southern California and lead author of the study. “Overall, LINX had a remarkable safety profile, even from the earliest experiences with this new technology.”
About 2,000 of the devices have been implanted worldwide, and there are still some issues that patients should be aware of, including being restrictions with certain levels of MRI imaging. But patients and surgeons alike have reacted positively to the new technology, according to a recent Milwaukee Journal/Sentinel article.
Jon Gould, MD, chief of general surgery at Froedtert and the Medical College of Wisconsin, who served on the U.S. Food and Drug Administration panel that recommended approval for the LINX Device, said the device addresses a gap in the treatment of acid reflux. “This is in my opinion a game-changer,” Gould said.