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During fundoplication surgery, the upper curve of the stomach (the fundus) is wrapped around the esophagus and sewn into place so that the lower portion of the esophagus passes through a small tunnel of stomach muscle. This surgery strengthens the valve between the esophagus and stomach (lower esophageal sphincter), which stops acid from backing up into the esophagus as easily. This allows the esophagus to heal.
If open surgery (which requires a large incision) is done, you will most likely spend several days in the hospital. A general anesthetic is used, which means you sleep through the operation. After open surgery, you may need 4 to 6 weeks to get back to work or your normal routine.
If the laparoscopic method is used, you will most likely be in the hospital for only 2 to 3 days. A general anesthetic is used. You will have less pain after surgery, because there is no large incision to heal. After laparoscopic surgery, most people can go back to work or their normal routine in about 2 to 3 weeks, depending on their work.
After either surgery, you may need to change the way you eat. You may need to eat only soft foods until the surgery heals. And you should chew food thoroughly and eat more slowly to give the food time to go down the esophagus.
Fundoplication surgery is most often used to treat GERD symptoms that are likely to be caused in part by a hiatal hernia and that have not been well controlled by medicines. The surgery may also be used for some people who do not have a hiatal hernia. Surgery also may be an option when:
Risks or complications following fundoplication surgery include:
For some people, the side effects of surgery—bloating caused by gas buildup, swallowing problems, pain at the surgical site—are as bothersome as GERD symptoms. The fundoplication procedure cannot be reversed, and in some cases it may not be possible to relieve the symptoms of these complications, even with a second surgery.
GERD can be annoying and even painful. But it is not a dangerous disease. For any GERD treatment to be worth trying, it needs to be very safe. For many people, especially those who have few problems taking medicine, surgery is not a good choice.
But when fundoplication surgery is successful, it may end the need for long-term treatment with medicine. When you are deciding between surgery and treatment with medicine, weigh the cost, risks, and potential complications of the surgery against the cost and inconvenience of taking medicine.
Before surgery, additional tests will usually be done to be sure that surgery is likely to help cure GERD symptoms and to diagnose problems that could be made worse by surgery.
Second surgeries are harder to do, are less successful, and are more risky. So it is extremely important that the first procedure be considered carefully and be done by an experienced surgeon who is more likely to be successful the first time.
Surgery to treat GERD is rarely done on people who:
In special cases, other surgeries such as partial fundoplication or gastropexy may be done instead of fundoplication surgery.
- Lundell L, et al. (2007). Seven-year follow-up of a randomized clinical trial comparing proton-pump inhibition with surgical therapy for reflux oesophagitis. British Journal of Surgery, 94(2): 198–203.
Other Works Consulted
- Galmiche J-P, et al. (2011). Laparoscopic antireflux surgery vs esomeprazole treatment for chronic GERD. JAMA, 305(19): 1969–1977.
Last Revised: March 6, 2012
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