St George’s develops UK first anti-reflux surgery service
Surgeons at St George’s carried out a new endoscopic treatment for acid reflux, called Stretta, for the first time in October.
This means that St George’s is now the only NHS hospital in the UK to offer a fully comprehensive endoscopic and surgical anti-reflux service.
Acid reflux, otherwise known as heartburn, is a chronic condition where stomach acid passes into the oesophagus causing a variety of symptoms including pain and regurgitation.
It affects approximately 20% of the population and although medication is usually successful in treating this condition, some patients with severe symptoms require surgery.
Traditionally this would involve major abdominal surgery, called fundoplication, which involves wrapping the stomach around the oesophagus. Although effective, it has a number of side effects which is why the St George’s upper gastrointestinal surgical team investigated new approaches to develop less invasive surgical treatments for reflux.
Over the last four years, the team at St George’s has successfully introduced Linx – a less invasive surgical operation involving the insertion of a magnetic barrier ring to improve acid reflux symptoms, before introducing the latest procedure Stretta.
Stretta involves the insertion of an endoscope via the mouth to strengthen the muscles around the bottom part of the oesophagus. This technique has the advantage of avoiding the need for surgical incisions and can even be done without the need for general anaesthesia.
Tony Garbutt, 70, was the first patient at St George’s to undergo Stretta under the care of Mr Marcus Reddy and Mr Omar Khan, Upper Gastrointestinal Surgeons.
He said: “My symptoms were getting so bad that I was having real difficulty in breathing. I couldn’t have invasive surgery that was previously available, so this new procedure really is life-changing for me.”
Tony, a builder from South Croydon, suffered with acid reflux symptoms for twenty years and took medication every day in an attempt to keep the symptoms at bay before being transferred to St George’s when Stretta became available.
He said: “I’m so thankful to the team at St George’s, everything went smoothly and I’m back to work and living symptom free!”
Mr Reddy, who led the procedure, said: “I’m delighted to have introduced Stretta to St George’s. It’s much better for our patients – like Tony – to avoid invasive surgery, and they can go home on the same day.
He added: “Although it’s not suitable for everyone, those who are able to have the procedure are those who have the most severe symptoms and will see a huge difference.”
Mr Khan said: “As a supra-regional specialist centre for reflux surgery, St George’s already attracts local and national referrals but the addition of Stretta, along with our existing Linx programme means we are now the only NHS hospital in the UK to be able to offer a fully comprehensive endoscopic and surgical anti-reflux service for our patients.
He added: “This reinforces our position as national leaders and innovators in benign upper gastrointestinal surgery.”