Gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD) is a common disorder that affects an estimated 21 million Americans. It is a condition in which food or liquid travels backwards from the stomach to the esophagus (the tube from the mouth to the stomach). This action can irritate the esophagus, causing heartburn and other symptoms. GERD is often chronic, which means that once you develop this condition, you may experience recurring episodes for the rest of your life. It is estimated that 10-20% of people will have acid reflux at least once a week.
In many cases, changing diet and taking over-the-counter antacids can reduce the frequency of GERD symptoms. If symptoms persist after these lifestyle changes, more intensive drug therapy may be required. Patients who cannot control their symptoms with these approaches may choose to have surgery.
Nissen fundoplication is a surgical procedure used to treat severe GERD. During fundoplication surgery, the upper curve of the stomach (known as the fundus) is carefully wrapped around the junction of the esophagus and stomach and sewn into place. This creates a barrier that prevents the flow of acid into the esophagus.
The procedure is also performed on individuals with a hiatal hernia, a condition in which a portion of the stomach protrudes upward into the chest through an opening in the diaphragm. Patients with hiatal hernia often develop GERD symptoms.
Nissen fundoplication can be done as either traditional "open" surgery or a laparoscopic procedure. The open procedure involves an incision of about 8 inches in the abdomen, while the laparoscopic approach is a minimally invasive technique using significantly smaller incisions.
Boulder Community Hospital offers the latest approach to treating GERD -- robot-assisted Nissen fundoplication surgery with the da Vinci Surgical System. Benefits of da Vinci surgery include:
- Significantly less pain
- Potentially less blood loss
- Fewer complications - including reduced risk of infection
- Less scarring – 1-2 cm incisions versus 8 inches with open surgery
- Shorter hospital stay
- Quicker recovery from surgery and return to normal routine
The state-of-the-art da Vinci robot allows some complex surgeries to be performed as minimally invasive procedures. Through tiny 1-2 cm incisions, a surgeon using the da Vinci system can operate with precision and control while minimizing the pain that often accompanies the large incisions associated with open surgery. The surgeon uses special hand controls to guide robotic arms that hold specially designed surgical instruments. The latest computer technology converts the surgeon’s large hand movements into precise small movements, resulting in tremendous dexterity. The robotic "wrists" can rotate a full 360 degrees, enabling your surgeon to control the miniature surgical instruments with unprecedented accuracy, flexibility and range of motion. The da Vinci System requires that every surgical maneuver be performed with direct input from your surgeon – the machine cannot move on its own.
The three-dimensional, high definition da Vinci camera supplies your surgeon with a magnified view of the internal organs that’s better than normal vision. The enhanced visualization and greater degree of movement offered by the da Vinci System provides a minimally invasive alternative that offers many advantages for Nissen fundoplication surgery.
For more information on the da Vinci System’s leading-edge robotic technology, click here.
Contact a general surgeon to find out if robot-assisted surgery may be your best treatment option.
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