Stretta Procedure for Acid Reflux

B.S. Dietetics, Dietitian, Health Professional
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Acid reflux disease or GERD is now the most common upper gastrointestinal disease in Western countries and its prevalence is on the rise.

Americans already spend billions of dollars every year on prescriptions for GERD. Proton Pump Inhibitors (PPIs) alone topped $9.5 billion in sales in 2012, but plenty of new studies indicate potential long term side effects from these medications. For up to 40 percent of patients the medications don’t even provide adequate control of their disease. This has led scientists and physicians to look for acid reflux solutions that are minimally invasive.

What might work?

The Stretta procedure, for example, is a minimally invasive, outpatient procedure that takes generally takes less than 60 minutes to complete. During the procedure, an upper gastrointestinal endoscopy or scope is used to treat the lower esophageal sphincter and gastric cardia with radiofrequency (RF) energy. This heat energy causes the muscle tissue responsible for preventing reflux episodes to remodel and improve over the following two to six months. This results in fewer reflux episodes and in one analysis the study showed a high-rate of symptom control over and above PPI therapy.

Who is the Stretta procedure indicated for?

Patients may wish to discuss the Stretta procedure with their physician for various reasons, including:

  • Use of PPI medications has not controlled GERD symptoms

  • Patient and/or physician are concerned about the side effects of medications

  • Patient does not want an invasive procedure such as alternatives including Nissen fundoplication and others

  • Does not require general anesthesia or hospital stay

  • Faster recovery time

  • Patient has uncomplicated reflux that does not involve addition issues such as a large hiatal hernia

Does the Stretta procedure work?According to several studies, the Stretta procedure appears to be safe and effective. In a 2014 study published in Surgical Endoscopy, 72 percent of patients still had a normalization of GERD-health-related quality of life 10 years after the initial procedure. Pre-existing Barrett’s esophagus also regressed in 85 percent of patients as noted through biopsy. Another eight year follow up study published in Gastroenterology Research and Practice showed that almost 80 percent of patients were still able to be off of PPI medications. Both studies found no long-lasting complications from the Stretta procedure.

Only your physician can determine which procedure, if any, is right for your condition based on all of your medical history. This information is not intended to be substituted for your physician’s advice but to provide you with content to open up the discussion with your own doctor.

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Jennifer has a bachelor's degree in dietetics as well as graduate work in public health and nutrition. She has worked with families dealing with digestive disease, asthma and food allergies for the past 12 years. Jennifer also serves the Board of Directors for Pediatric Adolescent Gastroesophageal Reflux Association (PAGER).