Having surgery, whether for the first time or more, can always a stressful situation. Here at our practice, we believe that making you a well-informed patient will help you understand all of your options and guide you on the path towards clarity and comfort. When you become a part of our practice, you become a part of our family.
Gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD) is a very common condition that is becoming even more present in today’s population. Frequently the symptoms can be managed with lifestyle and dietary changes. However, some patients do not respond to these changes or are unresponsive to medications. Recent research has shown that long term medications for acid reflux can have very severe health consequences. Dr. Harish Yalamanchili has advanced training in treating patients for hiatal hernias and acid reflux using minimally invasive robotic and laparoscopic surgery.
Gastroesophageal reflux disease happens when the amount of acidic gastric juice refluxing into the esophagus exceeds the normal limit. This causes symptoms such as heartburn, voice changes, and regurgitation of food.
Long term effects of acid reflux can be coughing, hoarseness, chest pain, and teeth injury. You may also have damage to the esophagus such as ulcerations or changes in the esophagus called Barrett’s esophagus. This is where the lining of the esophagus changes to resemble the lining of your intestine. These changes happen so that the esophagus can protect itself. However, these changes can progress into cancer.
Think of the esophagus like a long hallway with two doors at the beginning and the end. The first door (upper esophageal sphincter) lets the food go into the esophagus and the second door (lower esophageal sphincter) leads to the stomach. When the door that leads into the stomach becomes weak, it opens the wrong way too often. This leads the stomach acid to go into the esophagus. The esophagus or the stomach may not empty properly and this can worsen symptoms. Sometimes the reason for the door working poorly can be due to the presence of a hiatal hernia.
There is an opening in the diaphragm (breathing muscle) that the esophagus goes through before it joins the stomach. If this opening becomes larger than normal, the negative pressure of the chest pulls the stomach into the chest and therefore increases the chance that the gastric juice refluxes into the esophagus. This negative pressure also weakens the lower esophageal sphincter.
The vast majority of the patients will have this surgery as an outpatient and will go home the same day. You will need to be on a light diet that is low in fat and cholesterol for about 2 days after surgery so that you can recover from the anesthesia. We recommend a diet low in fat and cholesterol always but try to follow this for about 4 weeks after surgery to help the recovery process. Typically, after recovery there are no dietary restrictions.