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Bracelet-Like Device Controls Chronic Acid Reflux

Mayo Clinic surgeons report 92% success rate (Feb. 21)

A bracelet-like device with magnetic beads can control chronic gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD), according to a report from the Mayo Clinic in Jacksonville, Fla. The new study was published in the New England Journal of Medicine.

The device encircles the valve at the junction of the esophagus and stomach and helps the valve stay closed when a person is not eating or drinking. It eased symptoms in 92 of 100 patients with chronic acid reflux and allowed 87 patients to stop using acid-suppressing drugs, third-year results from the 5-year study showed. Ninety-four patients were satisfied with the treatment.

“The only treatment options in the past have been acid-suppressing agents or surgery,” said co-author C. Daniel Smith, MD. “Acid-suppressing agents don't directly address the underlying ineffective valve, leaving patients with persistent symptoms; surgery can lead to distressing side effects of bloating and inability to vomit in 20 percent of patients. These side effects occurred rarely with this new device.”

The American Gastroenterological Association estimates that approximately one in three people in the U.S. have GERD. Excessive acid can damage the esophagus and lead to the precancerous condition known as Barrett’s esophagus and to esophageal cancer, Smith says.

Installation of the device — which was approved by the FDA in March 2012 — is minimally invasive and takes 1 to 2 hours. After the procedure, patients stay overnight in the hospital.

Source: Mayo Clinic; February 21, 2013.

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