If you are one of the 20 million Americans who suffer daily from acid reflux, you have probably tried everything, from special diets to sleeping in a sitting position. While people with mild cases manage their acid reflux with antacids, for a large number of people this does not work. The new implant named The Linx might be just what they need: a permanent solution and the freedom to enjoy their food without pain, discomfort and potentially serious consequences.
The new device, called The Linx, is designed as a ring of titanium beads with implanted magnets inside. The device is placed around the damaged or weak muscle between the esophagus and the stomach. The half-hour operation is simple, and is done using a scope and a small “keyhole” incision in the stomach. The implanted ring strengthens the weak muscle in order to keep it closed but sufficiently flexible, so that it can expand to allow food to pass when swallowed. The ring is generally about a half-inch in diameter, but it comes in different sizes and can expand to about 1.5 inches. Once it is implanted, people do not feel it all. The Linx has been approved by the FDA (Food and Drug Administration) about a year ago. It is also sold in Europe.
The Linx device is made by Torax Medical Inc., of St. Paul, Minn. It costs $5,000. Depending on the hospital, the operation to implant the device costs from $12,000 to $20,000. Many medical insurance companies cover it, if the patient can show that he or she had no success in alleviating GERD with standard antacid medicines.
Many doctors who have experience with the Linx claim that the results so far have been impressive. The time will tell how long will it last and whether any side effects will show up.
What is GERD?
GERD is one of many health issues that we can thank our lifestyle for. Acid reflux or gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD) is the damage to the valve at the entrance to the stomach, a ring of muscle named the lower esophageal sphincter (LES). In healthy people, this valve closes after the food passes through it, on the way from the esophagus to the stomach. If it doesn’t close completely or if it opens often, stomach acid moves back into the esophagus, causing the familiar burning we know as heartburn. If this happen more than two times a week, it is more than just heartburn. It is GERD or acid reflux disease.
Acid reflux disease is caused by a number of things, but mostly by too much food, obesity, eating too close to going to bed, spicy or fatty foods, acid-producing foods such as onions, tomatoes or citrus, smoking etc.