Surgical Options


For some people, surgery to strengthen the barrier between the stomach and esophagus may be a treatment option for acid reflux. This surgery to treat GERD is called a “fundoplication” (pronounced fun-doeply-KAY-shun). Your doctor can tell you if surgery might help you.

How does surgery for GERD work?
  • In a fundoplication, the top part of your stomach is wrapped around the bottom of your esophagus and attached there.
  • This helps strengthen the muscle at the bottom of your esophagus that closes to keep food and acid from coming back up.
  • The surgeon may be able to do the surgery with a tool called a “laparoscope” (pronounced LAH-pruh-skohp). A laparoscope is a thin tube with a tiny camera that the surgeon puts through small cuts in your belly along with other small tools to do the surgery.
  • It usually takes less time to recover from surgery with a laporascope than if the surgeon has to make a large cut in your belly to do the surgery.

There are two types of surgery: total fundoplication and partial fundoplication.


What does the research say about surgery?
  • Fundoplication surgery works as well as only taking medicine to keep you from getting acid reflux and heartburn. However, you may still need medicine after surgery to control your symptoms.
  • There are different ways to do the surgery (for example, with a laporascope or through a large cut in your belly), but they all work about the same.
What are the side effects?
  • Fundoplication surgery can cause you to feel bloated and make it hard to swallow. These side effects may last for 30 days or longer, and some side effects may require a second surgery to fix.
  • Serious side effects, such as infection and heart attack, may be more common with surgery than with medicine. These side effects are rare.

Endoscopic treatments

Endoscopic (pronounced en-doh-SKAHP-ik) treatments help strengthen the muscle that keeps food and acid from going up into your esophagus. These treatments are not considered surgery because no cuts are made in your belly. Instead, a doctor puts a thin tube called an endoscope through your mouth and down your esophagus to do the treatment.

Three types of endoscopic treatments are EndoCinch™, Stretta®, and EsophyX™. These treatments are very new and are not as common as medicines or surgery to treat GERD. People receiving one of these treatments may be in a study to see how well it works.

What does research say about endoscopic treatments?
  • There are not enough studies to say how well endoscopic treatments (EndoCinch™, Stretta®, and EsophyX™) work to control the symptoms of GERD.
What are the side effects of endoscopic treatments?
  • Endoscopic treatments can cause pain in your chest or abdomen (belly) and bleeding.
  • They can also cause you to feel bloated and make it hard to swallow. These side effects may last for 30 days or longer.
  • Because these treatments are new, not enough research has been done to know how safe they are.

Lifestyle changes

Your doctor may suggest some lifestyle changes that can help control your GERD symptoms. These include:

  • Maintain a healthy weight.
  • Quit smoking.
  • Limit alcohol.
  • Avoid eating 3 hours before lying down.
  • Raise the head of your bed.
  • Avoid foods that can make GERD symptoms worse (spicy foods, fatty foods, mint, chocolate, tomato-based foods, coffee, and citrus fruits).