Non-surgical procedure at Duke helps patients with acid reflux

DURHAM (WTVD) -- Acid reflux is a fairly common ailment. While most people can experience mild symptoms from eating certain foods or simply eating too much, others experience this on a regular basis.

The severity of the symptoms can range from discomfort to nausea, burning in the throat and chest, to an inability to lay flat to sleep at night. But some patients are finding permanent relief through a non-surgical procedure called Stretta.

One of those patients is Fayetteville resident Linda Prillaman. She had been battling severe acid reflux for more than 20 years, relying on medication to keep the worst of the symptoms at bay. Eventually, even medication couldn't provide relief.

"I couldn't eat anything, I would eat dry cereal 2-3 times a day, and if I would eat a regular meal I would feel really, really bad afterward," she recalls.

That's when Prillaman's doctor at Duke suggested the Stretta procedure.

"It's a non-surgical endoscopic option where you're through an out-patient procedure" explains Dana Portenier, M.D.

The actual device works by delivering radio frequency energy to the muscle between the stomach and the esophagus. The process remodels and thickens the muscle tissue, creating a natural barrier.

"That helps any of that acid being made in the pouch from going back up," Dr. Portenier adds.

It's a relatively simple procedure that's a good option for patients such as Prillaman, along with those who simply don't want to be on medication long-term.

"If you're a younger person who has acid reflux and you have to be on medications for your entire life, they can lead to some side effect profiles like vitamin deficiencies, calcium deficiency," says Dr. Portenier.

It does take up to 6 months for patients to experience the full benefits of the Stretta procedure, but doctors say they're seeing excellent results. Prillaman can attest to that personally.

"I can actually go to Starbucks, or eat lasagna..." she begins with a smile. "I'm so glad I did it, I'm so thankful for it, it was a true godsend."

For more information on the Stretta Procedure or treatment options for acid reflux, Duke is hosting a free seminar coming up on March 25th. For more information, click here.

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