Reflux Disease (GERD)
The food in the stomach is partially digested by stomach acid and enzymes. Normally, the partially digested acid content in the stomach is delivered by the stomach muscle into the small intestine for further digestion. In esophageal reflux, stomach acid content refluxes backwards up into the esophagus, occasionally reaching the breathing passages, causing inflammation and damage to the esophagus, as well as to the lung and larynx (the voice box). The overall process is medically termed gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD). 10% of patients with GERD develop a Barrett's esophagus which can increase the risk of cancer of the esophagus.
During fundoplication surgery, the upper curve of the stomach (the fundus) is wrapped around the esophagus and sewn into place. This surgery strengthens the valve between the esophagus and stomach (lower esophageal sphincter), which stops acid from backing up into the esophagus as easily. This procedure can be done by minimally invasive surgery technique through the abdomen or the chest. The chest approach is often used if a person is overweight or has a short esophagus.