A man who had heartburn that was so severe he would sometimes regurgitate his food has finally been cured with a “revolutionary” new surgical procedure.
Jeff Cohen had trouble swallowing more than a mouthful or two because acid had been rising up from his stomach for so long that it impaired the normal muscle contractions in his oesophagus, or gullet.
He told Sky News that it made eating, particularly in public, unpleasant.
“It would sit there, heavy in my chest, like a blockage,” he said.
“But now I can eat without having to worry. The food goes straight down, like normal.”
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Mr Cohen was one of the first patients on the NHS to be implanted with a device called RefluxStop.
Surgeons at St Mary’s Hospital, part of Imperial College Healthcare, stitched the small cube of medical-grade silicone into a pouch on the outside of his stomach in a keyhole procedure that took little more than an hour.
The device holds the stomach and oesophagus in their proper positions so the muscular valve between them is able to work normally to allow food through but stop acid leaking out.
Mr Ahmed Ahmed, a consultant surgeon at the hospital, said the technique deals with the underlying cause of severe heartburn, or acid reflux.
“In most folks with reflux, the main issue is that the valve that stops the acid from going into your throat is in the wrong position.
That’s what’s causing them to have reflux on a daily basis.
In the new procedure, we put the valve back in the correct position, and then implant the RefluxStop to maintain the natural anatomy.”
Other surgical techniques constrict the bottom of the oesophagus to stop acid leaking from the stomach, but that can make swallowing more difficult, particularly in patients like Jeff with existing problems.
“For them, this [new procedure] is revolutionary because they will now be considered for surgery,” said Mr Ahmed.
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