If you have chronic heartburn or gastroesophageal reflux disease, one of the treatment options is a surgical operation known as the LINX procedure. The LINX technique is a relatively new procedure that either meets or exceeds safety and effectiveness standards of the more traditional nissen fundoplication procedure for GERD management. In today’s blog, we answer some of the most common questions we hear about the LINX procedure and explain why it might be exactly what you need if you’re dealing with acid reflux or GERD.
What does the LINX procedure entail?
The LINX procedure involves inserting a very small ring made of interlinked titanium beads into the esophageal canal to help keep the esophageal sphincter closed. This will prevent stomach acids from making their way back up into the esophagus. The magnetic beads relax during swallowing so as not to inhibit eating or drinking, and they also open during other movements like burping or vomiting. The magnetic beads simply help reinforce the esophageal sphincter’s natural ability to stay closed when not in use.
How is the procedure performed?
The surgeon can insert the LINX system using minimally invasive techniques, which speeds up recovery time and reduces complication risk. The device is slightly larger than a quarter, and it only takes about an hour to insert the ring and close up the wound site. Only about 4-5 small incisions will be made, most of them underneath the rib cage in the upper abdomen. The largest incision will only be about one centimeter in length, meaning they are also invisible after the surgical site heals.
Will I notice the ring when it’s inserted or when I swallow?
While some people report some mild discomfort while swallowing in the first few days after surgery, this is usually temporary and more attributed to the healing process than the inserting of the LINX device.
When can I return to my normal diet?
Most patients are encouraged to return to their normal diet as soon as possible after their operation, but soft foods may be easier for the first day or two if swallowing is a little uncomfortable due to the initial healing process.
When can I return to work after LINX surgery?
Depending on your line of work, you may be able to return to work the day after your procedure, but those in more physical positions may need a few days or even a week. Desk work may be permissible, but even minor lifting and simple repetitive movements may require a day or two away while you heal. Ask your surgeon about your work restrictions based on your job requirements.
How effective is the LINX procedure?
The LINX procedure is very effective for the right patient. According to the Food and Drug Administration, the typical patient can expect a significant reduction in symptoms. Some findings published by the FDA in a clinical trial found that only eight percent of people needed a proton pump inhibitor after the surgery (all did prior to the operation), only two percent experienced acid reflux that affected their sleep after surgery (70 percent did before surgery), only two percent had reflux that affected their ability to eat food after surgery (76 percent did before surgery) and one percent had heartburn that affected their daily life (55 percent did before surgery). It is a very effective surgery for patients whose acid reflux is not responding to conservative treatments.
What if the surgery doesn’t work, or there’s an issue with my device?
The LINX device doesn’t affect the integrity of your esophageal sphincter, so the magnetic band can be removed using minimally invasive techniques in the rare case that there’s an issue. Removing the device does not affect the patient’s ability to pursue further treatment options.
Does it ever need to be replaced?
The LINX device has been developed for lifelong use, so it will not wear out over time. Unlike some joint replacement operations, you will not need to have the device replaced due to normal wear and tear during your lifetime.
Do you have any other questions about the LINX procedure? Dr. Koeplin specializes in the technique, so give his office a call today if you want more information or to talk to him about your options for acid reflux management.