Gastroesophegeal Reflux Disease (GERD) is a condition where stomach acid backs up into the lower esophagus two or more times a week. Normally, the lower esophageal sphincter (LES) stops the flow of acid into the esophagus. When it is weak, or relaxes inappropriately, GERD can occur.
Signs of GERD
GERD usually begins as a burning pain that starts behind the breastbone and radiates upward to the neck. Signs of GERD can include one, or all, of the following:
- Chronic sore throat
- Chronic cough
- Difficulty breathing
- Difficulty sleeping
- A feeling of having a lump in your throat
- Trouble swallowing
- Difficulty lying flat
As a heartburn sufferer, you're not alone. As many as 25 million adults in the United States suffer from chronic heartburn on a daily basis. Heartburn that will not go away needs medical attention, because it may be a symptom of ulcers or other gastrointestinal problems. If left untreated, chronic acid reflux can damage the esophagus and possibly lead to esophageal cancer.
Heartburn Treatment Center of Virginia
In response to this growing medical concern, we offer a comprehensive program designed to treat GERD. The focus of the center is on assisting patients through dietary, lifestyle changes, medical management and/or minimally invasive surgical management. A heartburn nurse coordinator works in collaboration with your referring physician with assessment and selection of appropriate treatment.
Many GERD sufferers find help through lifestyle changes and medications. However, some do not, and the nurse coordinator will work with you to select the treatment option that best meets your needs.
At the center, we use the latest diagnostic and treatment options available.
Tests and Procedures
Your physician may have you undergo any one, or all, of these treatments.
Your physician will use this procedure to evaluate the condition of the tissue in your esophagus and stomach. Using a slender scope, the physician can take pictures and biopsies of these areas, as necessary.
This procedure, which is performed by one of our highly-trained nurses, measures pressure in the esophagus and provides information about function.
24-Hour pH study
This study involves recording actual acid levels (pH) in the esophagus for 24 hours while you are at home and carrying out your daily activities. This information accurately establishes whether or not GERD is the cause of your symptoms.
The array of medications for heartburn treatment is rapidly changing. Through continuing education, our physicians are highly knowledgeable in the proper use, dosing and side effects of all medications, and can help you make decisions on the benefits of medications versus its expenses.
Minimally Invasive Surgery
When medicine isn't the best option, minimally invasive surgical procedures can be performed by our world-class surgeons. These surgeries involve tiny incisions and usually require only an overnight stay.
Incorporation of New Therapies
To ensure you get the best care available, our staff constantly evaluates and incorporates new and emerging therapies and technologies, including endoscopic therapies.
Whether you want accurate information, or you're ready to schedule an appointment, call the Heartburn Treatment Center of Virginia. Our mission revolves around responding to your needs and offering effective treatment options for your heartburn. Our center offers you an experience unlike any other. Take back control of your life, and give us a call.
How the Bravo System Works
The test involves a miniature pH capsule, approximately the size of a gelcap, that is attached to your esophagus. Throughout the test period, the Bravo capsule measures the pH in the esophagus and transmits this information to a pager-sized receiver worn on your belt or waistband just like a pager or mobile phone. You will be given a diary to write down the times when you have reflux symptoms (for example, coughing, heartburn, regurgitation), when eating or when lying down.
After the test is completed, you return the diary and the Bravo Receiver to your doctor, and the information is uploaded to a computer, which provides a comprehensive report so the physician can diagnose your condition.
Heartburn Treatment Center of Virginia
3300 Rivermont Avenue
Lynchburg, VA 24503
What Is Barrett’s Esophagus?
Barrett’s Esophagus is a precancerous condition affecting the lining of the esophagus – the swallowing tube that carries foods and liquids from the mouth to the stomach.
How Does Barrett’s Esophagus Develop?
Gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD) is a disorder in which stomach acid and enzymes cause injury to the lining of the esophagus. This can produce symptoms such as heartburn, regurgitation, and chest pain. In some patients with GERD, the normal cells of the esophagus are damaged and can become inflamed, resulting in cell structure changes from esophageal tissue to intestinal tissue. This is called “intestinal metaplasia” or Barrett’s esophagus. Patients who have GERD symptoms more than 3 times per week should consult their physician.
How is Barrett’s Esophagus Diagnosed?
Barrett’s esophagus is diagnosed by tissue samples obtained during an upper endoscopy procedure. Endoscopy is a non-surgical procedure performed under moderate sedation. Barrett’s esophagus tissue is visually a different color and leads the endoscopist to the area for tissue sampling to be sent to pathology. A finding of intestinal cells is the esophagus confirms a diagnosis of Barrett’s esophagus.
What are the risks to the patient who has Barrett’s Esophagus?
Barrett’s esophagus increases the risk for patients to develop esophageal adenocarcinoma. There are different grades of Barrett’s with low grade and high grade dysplasia being the hihest risk for developing esophageal cancer.
What are treatment goals?
Controlling symptoms of GERD is a primary treatment goal. Medical therapies include prescription or over the counter medicines to block stomach acid, anti-reflux surgery, and endoscopic techniques such as mucosal resection, photodynamic therapy, and radiofrequency ablation (RFA). Patients with Barrett’s esophagus undergo routine “surveillance” upper endoscopies with biopsies on a regular basis for the remainder of their life.
What is the HALO ablation technology?
“Ablation” is a technique where tissue is heated until it is no longer alive. The HALO ablation technology is very specific n delivering heat energy precisely and in a highly controlled manner in the esophagus. Esophageal tissue is very thin which makes it a good candidate for removal with ablative energy. This ablation technology is capable of achieving complete removal of the diseased tissue without damaging normal tissue. Clinical studies have demonstrated that Barrett’s tissue can be completely eliminated with the HALO ablation technology in 98.4% of patients
Most recently a new endoscopic technique, called radiofrequency ablation, has been shown to be effective in changing the abnormal intestinal metaplasia back to normal esophageal tissue thereby decreasing the risk for developing esophageal cancer