A Bravo sensor capsule, lowered into the esophagus through the mouth where it can attach to the esophagus wall, transmits radio frequency to a computer for a doctor’s analysis. This test is popular with younger patients and the capsule is excreted via the GI tract in about 48 hours.
When reflux or GERD is diagnosed, proton pump inhibitors like Nexium are effective but long term use can increase chances for osteoporosis because the meds can interfere with the absorption of calcium and vitamin B12. Rather, it’s better to change your diet and lifestyle, doctors say.
If one has Barrett’s and treatments like ablation do not work, or if there is cancer and it isn’t caught early enough, the best option is surgery, said Dr. Mark Block, chief of the division of thoracic surgery at Memorial Healthcare System in Broward.
One type of surgery, done through laparoscopy, sews the upper part of the stomach around the lower part of the esophagus to shore up the sphincter muscle. Robotic, three-dimensional visualization, or video-assisted thoracic surgery, is minimally invasive and makes little incisions.
“This can make a big difference in recovery time and the complication rate after surgery,” Block said. “In the last year or so I’ve done probably half a dozen, and the recovery is much better than the traditional open approach.”
The most common complication of the surgery is pneumonia and breathing problems. Patients are kept in the hospital for a minimum of a week and drink liquids during the healing process.
“Most can come back to the same sort of diet before they became ill but they have to eat smaller meals more regularly because they don’t have a functioning esophagus so they have to be careful not to lay down after they eat,” Block said. “If you catch these cancers early, the operation is curative.”
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