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Putting an end to GERD: Non-surgical TIF procedure stops acid reflux

Gastroenterologist, Dr. Peter Mavrelis (left) with his patient, Cathy Reed.

Cathy Reed was suffering from acid reflux, also known as GERD, when she read about the transoral incisionless fundoplication (TIF) procedure in the newspaper. Rather than treating the symptoms of acid reflux as medications do, a TIF procedure addresses the cause…without making a single incision.

“The TIF procedure really interested me because it’s incisionless and can be fixed if it doesn’t work right the first time,” Cathy said.

Treatments

GERD occurs when the valve between the esophagus and the stomach no longer functions, allowing acid to escape into the esophagus. While medication can be effective for the short-term, it doesn’t treat its underlying cause. With long-term use, those same medications can lose effectiveness or have adverse effects.

“In contrast, surgical correction of the esophageal valve corrects the defect that causes GERD,” said Dr. Peter Mavrelis, a board certified gastroenterologist and internal medicine physician.

The most common conventional surgical treatment for acid reflux, laparoscopic nissen fundoplication, is often performed when a patient also has a hiatal hernia. Unlike medication, this procedure addresses the GERD cause. However, it involves surgical intervention, a hospital stay and, depending upon the approach used, a two- to six-week recovery period.

In contrast, the TIF procedure is completely incisionless. Performed through the mouth under general anesthetic, the surgeon sends a scope down the esophagus and stomach to recreate the barrier between them and prevent reflux. Patients experience less discomfort and a shorter recovery period than with an invasive surgery.

“More and more insurance companies now see the value of TIF over conventional surgery or taking chronic medications,” Dr. Mavrelis said.

Seeking Relief

Just as Cathy’s reflux progressed to the point of being unbearable, she remembered attending a TIF seminar presented by Dr. Mavrelis and scheduled an appointment.

Because Cathy also had a hiatal hernia, Dr. Mavrelis employed a team approach to address her problems. Dr. Tom Galouzis, a general surgeon, repaired the hernia endoscopically, and then Dr. Mavrelis performed the TIF procedure.

“Performing the two procedures in immediate succession is a relatively new concept. In doing so, we achieve the same good results without any of the comorbidities associated with traditional surgeries,” said Dr. Mavrelis.

Just six weeks after her TIF procedure, Dr. Mavrelis told Cathy that her procedure was a success.

“I like being a success – it’s great,” she said.

“Cathy is an excellent example of a satisfied patient,” Dr. Mavrelis said.

“I’m really glad that Methodist offers the TIF procedure,” Cathy said. “It’s nice to have that local expertise so you don’t have to drive back and forth to Chicago or deal with traffic.”

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