Learning About Radiofrequency Treatments for GERD

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Esophagus with detail of esophageal lining

What are radiofrequency treatments for GERD?

Radiofrequency (RF) treatments (like the Stretta procedure) mean that a doctor uses heat to treat the wall of the esophagus. This can help if you have irritation in your esophagus from gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD).

GERD is the backward flow of stomach acid into the esophagus, the tube that carries food and liquid to your stomach. A one-way valve prevents stomach acid from moving up into this tube. When you have GERD, this valve does not close tightly enough.

If you have mild GERD symptoms, such as heartburn, you may be able to control the problem with over-the-counter or prescription medicine. Changing your diet, losing weight, and making other lifestyle changes can also help reduce symptoms.

If those treatments don't work, your doctor might recommend RF treatments.

How do radiofrequency treatments help with GERD?

When you have RF treatments, a doctor uses heat to treat tissue in the wall of the esophagus. As the tissue heals, you may have fewer GERD symptoms. The symptoms may even go away.

Before the procedure, you will get medicines through a needle in your vein (IV) in your arm or hand. These medicines reduce pain and will make you feel relaxed and drowsy. Your throat will also be numbed. You may not remember much about the treatment.

During the procedure, the doctor will use a tool called an endoscope, or scope. It's a thin, flexible, lighted viewing tool. It goes into the mouth and down the throat. Your doctor can use it to see the area that will be treated.

Your doctor will find the area where the esophagus meets the stomach and will apply heat. The treatment may take about half an hour.

What can you expect after radiofrequency treatments?

After the treatment, your esophagus may feel tight or narrow. You may have pain in your chest. You may also feel bloated or have trouble swallowing.

You will be observed for 1 to 2 hours after the treatment until the medicines wear off. You should not eat or drink until your throat is no longer numb. When you recover, you can go home.

You will not be able to drive or operate machinery for 12 hours after the test. Your doctor will tell you when you can go back to your usual diet and activities. Do not drink alcohol for 12 to 24 hours after the test.

You may still need to treat some symptoms of GERD. Your doctor will give you information about that.

Follow-up care is a key part of your treatment and safety. Be sure to make and go to all appointments, and call your doctor or nurse call line if you are having problems. It's also a good idea to know your test results and keep a list of the medicines you take.

Where can you learn more?

Go to https://www.healthwise.net/patientEd

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