Device could prevent acid reflux
Gastrointestinal reflux disease (GERD), especially in its chronic form, is much more than just a short bout of heartburn after eating spicy foods. The condition is characterized by a faulty valve that separates the stomach and the throat, resulting in stomach acids creeping back up the esophagus and potentially damaging it. As many as one-third of Americans suffer from the condition, but most respond well to acid-suppressing medications.
But for the most extreme cases, scientists at the Mayo Clinic in Florida have developed a mechanism that can stop GERD, without the need for .taking drugs. They've invented a "bracelet" of magnetic beads that encircles the esophageal opening and helps the valve stay closed when the patient is not eating or drinking.
The device was found to be effective for 92 percent of the patients in whom it was implanted. The scientists say the treatment, which involves a minimally invasive procedure lasting one to two hours, is the first new, safe and effective treatment developed for GERD in the past 20 years.