Fix acid reflux for good

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As many as 20 percent of all Americans live with a chronic condition known as GERD (KFSN)

As many as 20 percent of all Americans live with a chronic condition known as GERD, gastroesophageal reflux disease, which can lead to esophageal cancer over time. Over-the-counter medications may give temporary relief from symptoms, but a unique procedure may stop the reflux for good.

For years, Erich Puhlman was sickened almost every time he ate a meal.

"Used to love hot foods, couldn't eat the hot and spicy anymore," said Puhlman.

Nothing he tried relieved the burning sensation that would start in his stomach then spread.

"It was like a heart attack. I never felt anything like it. In both my arms, it was the most painful experience I've ever had."

Erich suffered from GERD, chronic acid reflux caused by a backup of stomach acid into the esophagus. That back up occurs when there is a problem with the valve between the esophagus and the stomach, causing stomach acid to flow backwards.

"When you get a hiatal hernia, which means the hole gets bigger from pressure on it, the valve comes out," said Farid Gharagozloo, MD/Professor of Surgery.

Doctor Gharagozloo is using a minimally-invasive procedure to fix the opening. Surgeons make small incisions in the abdomen. Surgeons operate tiny robotic hands to create a new valve.

"Robotics has allowed us to have more dexterity and the ability to actually make a valve by pushing the esophagus into the stomach and getting it just right," said Gharagozloo.

Small sutures hold the new valve in place. The entire procedure takes one hour and patients go home the next day. For Erich and his wife, Dana, surgery marked a turnaround. Erich can now walk for miles, tackling a full day at his favorite theme park without needing a break.

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