New procedure for those who suffer from acid reflux

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"Tomatoes are real acidic. Hot sauce, I just made from my garden at home," explains Thomas Garcia. These are just a few of the foods Garcia loves to eat but he also knows he will pay for it the next day.

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New procedure for acid reflux

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Garcia suffers from heartburn. He says, "It was three or four times a week, just depending on what kind of food I ate."

While it has gotten worse over the last 30 years, Thomas now has what is called Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease or better known as acid reflux. Garcia explains, "Just a real burning sensation in your esophagus. It won't let you sleep. You can't work and you can't perform."

Dr. Tanja Gunsberger, with Advanced Cardiac Specialists, says more than 30 million Americans suffer with acid reflux. She says, " That is bathing that esophagus in acid, with a very low pH on a regular basis and that puts people at a higher risk for esophageal cancers at about a 10% increase in rate."

Symptoms not only include heartburn but spitting up undigested food, to pain and discomfort in the chest. While diet and medications have been able to control acid reflux problems it does not work for everyone.

Garcia admits, "I'm willing to try anything." Thomas is doing a new FDS minimally-invasive procedure called Incisionless Fundoplication with a device called Esophyx at the Arizona Regional Medical Center in Mesa.

Dr. Gunsberger says, "We are able to do the surgery now from inside the stomach so we don't have to make an incision."

The device is inserted through the mouth and then with fasteners, it reconstructs the valve between the esophagus and the stomach to restore the body's natural protection against reflux.

Dr. Gunsberger explains, "They're missing that barrier. It's either stretched out or it wasn't there to begin with and the stomach produces up to two liters of acid on a daily basis." She says studies have shown that up to 80% of the patients no longer take medication after the procedure, while reducing or eliminating heartburn symptoms.

Dr. Gunsberger says, "To be able to help a large number of patients that suffer on a daily basis, is rewarding for me."

It has been almost two weeks since Thomas had the procedure. He is off the medication he took daily for the last 10 years and says he is definitely feeling a lot better. "I haven't had any gas reflux like I've had before. It's just the pain of the inflammation of the esophagus."

Time will only tell if Thomas can stay off the medication for good. The procedure is also covered by some insurance companies.

The Acid Reflux procedure is called "Incisionless Fundoplicatin" at the Arizona Regional Medical Center. For more information call (480) 223-4170 or go to the .