Magnets could help patients suffering chronic heartburn

New treatment is less invasive

Published On: Apr 06 2012 01:49:21 PM CDT
Generic Medical Look

Chronic heartburn, also known as gerd, keeps millions of Americans from enjoying the foods they love and can also lead to a dangerous form of cancer.

Acids leak up from the stomach into the esophagus. The only treatments are drugs that offer short-term relief or a surgery where doctors knot the stomach around the esophagus.

Now, there is a magnetic device that stops acid reflux in its tracks.

Surgeons place the device around the bottom of the esophagus in a procedure that only takes 20 minutes.

Magnetic attraction between the beads helps the esophagus open up when food goes down then close tightly so acid can't find its way up.

"And when food tries to come back up, it's closed, so nothing comes back up, but things can go through," Dr. Santiago Horgan with the University of California San Diego Health System said.

After the procedure, patients can eat what they want right away.

"I'm eating the regular food and not feeling discomfort or pain," a patient said.

Horgan said the procedure is simple to perform and there are no food restrictions.

With traditional surgery, patients are put on a special diet for six weeks.