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Life-Changing Procedure Now Available for Reflux Patients

February 21, 2023

A novel and minimally invasive procedure to treat challenging cases of severe acid reflux is now available at Hartford HealthCare, and patients’ lives are already improving dramatically.

Called transoral incisionless fundoplication (TIF), it is a minimally invasive procedure to treat heartburn, acid reflux, regurgitation, and other symptoms associated with gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD). These symptoms can be caused by a malfunctioning valve that allows stomach contents, including acid, into the esophagus.

TIF is an endoscopic procedure that reconstructs the valve between the stomach and esophagus (the passageway between the mouth and stomach). It can be beneficial in patients whose GERD symptoms are not managed well with other treatments such as antacids and acid suppressing drugs such as proton pump inhibitors (PPIs).

Amir Masoud, MD, a St. Vincent’s Medical Center gastroenterologist who is also co-director of HHC’s Neurogastroenterology & Motility Center, performed HHC’s first TIF in December on a female patient whose severe reflux was exacerbated by an auto-immune disorder called scleroderma. Scleroderma causes the hardening and tightening of the skin, as well as problems in the blood vessels, internal organs and muscles of the digestive tract.

“Her esophagus became very wide open because of her scleroderma, so much so that the top of her stomach protruded through the bottom of her esophagus,” Dr. Masoud says. “This led to extreme reflux and also an inability to swallow solids.”

Prescription medicines were not alleviating her reflux symptoms and, because of her other health issues, she was not considered a candidate for more traditional procedures. After careful planning, a novel approach including TIF, was pursued with excellent results.

Multiple national studies have shown that the TIF procedure is performed successfully in 99% of patients with rare complications, such as a tear or internal bleeding, during or after the procedure.

For a large number of patients, TIF provides significant GERD symptom relief and improved quality of life. Recent studies also show that most patients (89%) are able to stop taking PPI medicine. The results are similar to other more invasive techniques which involve surgery.

“This incisionless technique doesn’t alter the anatomy like traditional methods using laparoscopy or open surgical techniques,” Dr. Masoud says. “Instead, the aim is to reconstruct that barrier that we’re born with – that is the best combat to reflux.”

Since her procedure, the patient reports that her reflux is vastly improved and she is able to eat regular foods and swallow normally.

Since Dr. Masoud performed the TIF at St. Vincent’s, he has also successfully completed TIF on a patient at HHC’s Midstate Medical Center in Meriden.