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New General Surgeon Offers Hope For GERD Sufferers

Date:  September 30th, 2013

Contact/Phone:  Mary Muhlbradt
Phone: (701)857-5116
Fax: (701)857-5683

e-mail:   Mary Muhlbradt

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People who suffer from chronic heartburn have fresh hope for relief thanks to the arrival of a new addition to Trinity Health's General Surgery team. Gary L. Wease, MD, FACS, a board-certified general surgeon, brings nearly two decades of surgery experience, including an innovative approach to treating Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease (GERD).

Tens of millions of Americans suffer from daily reflux, with symptoms that range from burning in the chest (heartburn) to regurgitation, chronic cough and hoarseness.

“The main cause of reflux or heartburn is an anatomical abnormality at the junction where the esophagus connects to the stomach,” Dr. Wease explains. “When a person swallows, the valve between the esophagus and the stomach opens to allow food to pass and then closes again to prevent stomach fluids from backing up into the esophagus. For people with chronic acid reflux, this valve has become dysfunctional.”

First line treatments usually involve medications that reduce the production of gastric acid, according to Dr. Wease. “The problem with medical therapy is that it's designed for short-term use,” he said. “I meet people in my office who've been on medication for 15-20 years
because they never sought another alternative.”

Until recently, surgical alternatives have ranged from open surgery to a laparoscopic procedure performed through small incisions. But an even better option now is available. Transoral Incisionless Fundoplication, or TIF, uses a device called an aEsophyX® that lets the surgeon perform a surgical procedure without any incisions.

“The TIF procedure is done entirely through the mouth with no incision,” Dr. Wease said. “What
fundoplication involves is taking the upper part of the stomach and wrapping it around the esophagus to recreate the tissue valve.”

TIF is performed under general anesthesia and generally takes an hour or so. The EsophX device and an endosope are introduced through the patient's mouth and advanced into the esophagus. With visualization provided by the endosope, the surgeon uses the EsophX device to reconstruct the anti-reflux valve by wrapping the stomach's fundus around the distal esophagus and securing it with fasteners. Recovery is typically 3 to 7 days, according to Dr. Wease.

“What I tell patients is that with TIF we can't say that it will 100% eliminate one's chances of having heartburn again, but it can significantly improve your quality of life.Wherever you sit on the scale of discomfort, this can enable you to be 85 percent better.”

For more information, call Dr. Wease at 701-857-5764.

About Dr. Wease:
A graduate of Indiana University School of Medicine, where he received the Honor Award for General Surgery, Dr. Wease completed his General Surgery residency at William Beaumont Hospital in Michigan in 1997. Following his residency he began a long-term association with McLaren Regional Medical Center
in Flint, MI, where he served as Director of Bariatric Surgery and Medical Director of Trauma Services. He's a Fellow of the American College of Surgeons. SPACE index.php