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LINX Procedure for GERD
Relief from acid reflux or GERD is hard to find.
While there are several anti-reflux operations available, the LINX system is proving to be a safer and more effective alternative as clinical studies continue. Is this operation right for you? Looking to learn more about what it entails? Looking for a doctor to perfrom the LINX procedure in Dallas-Fort Worth?
Here’s everything you need to know.
What is LINX?
The LINX system is a device the size of a quarter. It looks similar to a bracelet, containing magnets held together by a steel thread. These magnets mimic the actions of the esophageal sphincter, allowing food to enter but blocking acid from exiting.
So, what is the LINX procedure, and what does it involve?
This minimally invasive operation is an alternative to NISSEN Fundoplication that places the LINX ring around the opening to the esophagus. The ring is held together by two high-strength magnets, allowing the device to remain closed.
LINX replaces your non-functioning sphincter. Food can pass through easier when compared to other GERD operations, while the blockage of acid remains similar to how your body used to function.
Recommended Dallas-Fort Worth LINX Procedure Doctors
How is the Operation Done?
The device itself is fairly basic, but how is the LINX procedure done? Most patients worry about undergoing an operation, and rightfully so, but this surgery is actually a fairly simple procedure.
The surgery is minimally invasive, allowing doctors to insert the device and connect its magnets without the need for a large incision.
Once the device enters the body, doctors loop it around the lower esophageal sphincter and connect the ends. Outside of recovery, that’s all there is to it.
When considering any surgery, it helps to know what the success rates for the operation look like. So, how successful is the LINX procedure? Is the success rate high enough to make you comfortable?
The LINX procedure for acid reflux is incredibly effective.
Only 3% of patients need the device removed afterward, and only 10% end up back on their GERD medication. Five-year studies show that this device is an effective way to combat acid reflux for anyone whose lower esophageal sphincter has stopped functioning correctly.
Success rates and safety go hand in hand, which leads many patients to ask, “Is it FDA approved?” All clinical studies conducted on the LINX procedure are carried out by the FDA. The device is approved, and the data surrounding safety comes directly from the FDA.
While every surgery carries the risks of infection, bleeding, and reaction to anesthesia, these risks are minimal with the LINX procedure due to its minimally invasive nature. Patients undergo testing to ensure they are eligible for the operation and that it will help them with their GERD.
Is it Reversible?
If a complication arises, can the LINX system be removed? While the percentage of patients that experience complications are minimal (3%), the good news is that this band can be removed.
Device failure, complications, and side effects do happen. These events are rare, but the ability to remove the LINX system is as simple as installing it. Patients who need the system removed typically have difficulty swallowing long after their recovery.
Cost and Insurance
If you’re considering the LINX operation, you’re probably asking, “How much does it cost?” Does insurance cover the procedure? In other words, is this an affordable approach to managing GERD?
The LINX procedure for GERD costs an average of $1,500 more than NISSEN Fundoplication, making its price range roughly $4,500 to $6,500. That’s a hefty out-of-pocket expense, but the good news is that almost all insurance companies cover the operation.
Most insurance companies cover any form of anti-reflux surgery. Keep in mind that the LINX system is new, though. If your insurance does not include this specific procedure, your doctor can help you obtain the pre-authorization needed to have the operation.
What to Expect
There is little to no prep for the LINX operation, but your diet changes significantly afterward. It takes about eight weeks for your body to adjust to the change, during which you will have trouble swallowing. Patients also experience bloating, excess gas, and occasional chest pain.
Any patient undergoing surgery to fix GERD wonders, “What can I eat before/after LINX?” The answer is nearly anything. While there are slight limitations placed on dieting options for two months, the restrictions are far less than other anti-reflux operations.
For the first two weeks, a soft diet that avoids acidic foods is vital. Patients eat seven small meals per day, snacking on their choices every one-to-two hours. Soft, wet foods like applesauce and soup are the best choices. Steer clear of dry foods like bread, crackers, and chips.
From weeks three through eight, you will continue to eat this way. Scar tissue begins to form a barrier around the device, holding it in place. As this happens, you will also undergo physical therapy that involves working your way up to regular meals. This therapy exercises the LINX device through constant movement.
Solid foods become a part of your diet during this therapy, along with warm liquids that relax the esophagus muscles. Patients are encouraged to experiment with their food and find options that work with LINX to prevent GERD from returning. Carbonated beverages, however, are something to stay away from to avoid excess gas.
It is also essential that patients sit upright during and after each meal. This helps your body adjust to the pressure the LINX band provides, working with the device to allow food through. Remember to eat slowly, avoid talking while eating, and take small bites.
As for recovery time, patients leave the hospital on the same day as the operation. You don’t have to worry about missing work or other obligations after LINX. While you might want to take a day or two to rest, this operation doesn’t impact your life like others might.
Do I Qualify for LINX?
To qualify for this operation, your doctor will have you undergo a series of tests to ensure that your lower esophageal sphincter is the cause of your GERD. That isn’t the only qualifier, however.
Patients who have had NISSEN Fundoplication, esophageal, or bariatric surgery cannot get the LINX system for acid reflux. Due to the nature of bariatric surgeries like gastric bands or gastric bypass, the magnetic LINX ring would only cause complications.
Surgeries to the esophagus typically make the organ too weak to work in combination with LINX. NISSEN, on the other hand, places the top of the stomach where the LINX system would go. As long as you haven’t had these forms of operations, you more than likely qualify for LINX.
Another complication is pregnancy. While there is little information on the safety of the LINX procedure and pregnancy, most surgeons will not do the operation on an expecting mother. The change in diet could be problematic to the developing fetus, as could the surgery itself despite its minimally invasive nature. Any risk of infection is ill-advised during pregnancy.