Getting rid of GERD

FRESNO, Calif.

Alexa Hollander has a sweet gig working at her favorite yogurt shop.

"I love yougurt," Alexa Hollander told Action News.

What she didn't love was the sudden pain she started feeling two years ago every time she ate.

"I'd take one bite and instantly get this really bad taste in my mouth," Alexa said.

Alexa was diagnosed with GERD , a chronic digestive disease that happens when stomach acid flows back into the food pipe causing inflammation.

"Even if I didn't eat it happened. I'd wake up, it happens. I'm taking a shower, it happens - running, walking, walking to school, anything, no matter what, " Alexa said.

For two years she tried different types of medication but nothing worked.

"That's when I realized we have a serious issue here," Deborah Hollander, Alexa's mom, said.

"As the esophagus gets more and more injured from the acid, the cells in the esophagus can start to change, to a specific kind of change in the cells in the esophagus that can predispose you to cancer down the road," Miguel Burch, M.D., an associate director of general and minimally invasive surgery at Cedars Sinai Medical Center, said.

Before that could happen, Doctor Miguel Burch performed a new surgery to help Alexa keep her food down. without incisions, Doctor Burch gathered part of Alexa's upper stomach, pinched it and sewed it around the lower end of the esophagus, creating a one way valve that allows food to pass through the esophagus and into the stomach , but it doesn't allow the acids to come back up.

"It's a very innovative way to sew, by doing that and reshaping her valve, she was able to within 2 hours to have her disease under control again," Dr. Burch said.

In a three year clinical trial, 80% of patients were off their daily anti-acid medication after the procedure and were able to eat more types of food.

"They gave me apple juice and I hadn't had apple juice in two years," Alexa said. Today, Alexa is back to being a normal teenager and ready to tackle her most important job, serving and eating her favorite foods.

Because there are no incisions in this procedure, there's minimal scarring and patients should be able to return to normal activities within days.

Doctor Burch says patients might experience a sore throat after the surgery but it should go away in just a few days.

If you would like more information, please contact:
Erica Evans
Cedars-Sinal Medical Center

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