2 min readStudy Shows Effectiveness of Magnetic Device for Treatment of Reflux Disease

San Diego, CA – A study reported by the University of California, San Diego School of Medicine provides clinical evidence of the safety and effectiveness of a new magnetic medical device to treat gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD).

According to the report, Dr. Santiago Horgan,  professor of surgery at the Institute and study co-author, was the first surgeon in the United States to implant the FDA-approved device.

“What we found is that the LINX magnetic device can solve GERD’s underlying problem, a weak spincter,” said Horgan, chief of minimally invasive surgery, UC San Diego Health System. “The device corrects an anatomical defect that allows acids to move up the throat. For my patients this has been an effective way to permanently treat this painful condition, improve their quality of life, and end the need for over-the-counter medications.”

The LINX system is composed of a series of titanium beads, each with a magnetic core, that are connected to form a ring shape. It is implanted at the lower oesophageal sphincter (LES), a circular band of muscle that closes the last few centimetres of the oesophagus and prevents the backward flow of stomach contents.

As reported in the study, after sphincter augmentation with the LINX System, the majority of patients were able to substantially reduce or resolve their reflux symptoms, while eliminating use of their reflux medications such as proton pump inhibitors. Severe regurgitation was eliminated in 100 percent of patients, and nearly all patients (93 percent) reported a significant decrease in the need for medication. More than 9 in 10 patients (94 percent) reported satisfaction with their overall condition after having the LINX System, compared to 13 percent before treatment while taking medication.

Horgan said the device is an alternative to Nissen fundoplication which involves irreversibly wrapping the stomach around the oesophagus. The LINX System allows surgeons to leave the stomach intact and support the weak sphincter with a small device that can be removed.

More than 20 percent of the U.S. population experiences the painful burning symptoms of GERD. For these 20 million Americans, the first line of defence is medication. GERD can cause both pain and injury to the oesophageal lining and may lead to a precancerous condition called Barrett’s oesophagus. Symptoms of GERD include heartburn and regurgitation, often associated with the inability to sleep and dietary constraints.

The LINX system was studied in a controlled, prospective, multicentre trial involving 14 U.S. and European medical centres as part of the FDA approval process. The patients in the study reported suffering from reflux symptoms for a median of 10 years and taking reflux medications for a median of five years.

The study was published Feb. 21 in the New England Journal of Medicine (NEJM).

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