The Pros, Cons, & Cost of the Linx Procedure

Over 20 million people suffer from GERD in the United States.  Surgeons treat many patients with medications or surgery. Linx is a new surgery that has just been developed in the last several years.  Many patients do not even know that surgery is an option for more severe case sof GERD or acid reflux. This is just one of the many type available for patients. It is the Linx reflux management system for acid reflux treatment.

Linx Surgery

Linx is a new procedure or surgery that originated in 2012. It was tested for 4 years and approved by the FDA for use.  It is a series of magnets or rings that is implanted at the bottom of the esophagus. This procedure is performed by laparoscopic surgery.  This ring of magnets is designed to stay closed and keep the valve on the esophagus from opening at the wrong time.

It prevents stomach acid from coming up from the stomach into the esophagus into the throat. It allows food to come through when people are eating.  It will open to let the patient belch and vomit.  It is a small flexible band of titanium beads that are linked together to form a bracelet. It fits snugly around the esophageal sphincter and the attraction of the beads keeps the esophagus from opening.

The device closes after the person swallows This isa normal action. This device comes in six different sizes and the surgeon uses a sizing tool to determine the right size for the patient. When he finds the right size by measuring the esophagus he removes the sizing tool and places the Linx device via  an incision in the abdomen around the esophagus. It sits in a channel created by the surgeon with no stitching needed.

Benefits of Linx Surgery

It has faster recovery time than other procedures and less painful.  A patient can burp and vomit without damage to the device. It is easy to reverse or remove the device if problems arise. The patient can often return to a normal diet immediately. Many patients don’t have to take medications after they have the procedure. It eliminates gas, bloating and heart burn quickly.

Cons of the Linx Procedure

It is a new procedure and has not been tested a long time to determine effectiveness. Some of the side effects are difficulty swallowing, pain after the procedure, and bloating in the stomach.  There is always the risk of infection. It is more expensive than other reflux surgeries. Some insurance companies will cover the procedure and some do not. It is important to check with your insurance company before having the procedure performed. The costs vary depending on who performs the surgery and what part of the country you live in.

More About  Linx Surgery

Patients are kept in the hospital overnight after surgery.  Patients often can eat soft foods 48 hours after surgery. The doctor my prescribe pain medication after surgery. Often you will be able to resume normal activities in a few days when pain subsides. Weight lifting and strenuous exercise will have to wait at least three weeks or more. About 10% of Linx patients still have to take medications after the procedure. Linx patients cannot have MRI’s because it can cause damage to the linx device that was implanted in you.

Weight gain can sometimes cause problems with the Linx device because it puts pressure on the stomach. When you have the procedure check with your doctor to see if you need pre authorization for payment. The cost of Linx for reflux varies from $3,000 to $5,000.   It is not a good procedure for those that have had bariatric or esophageal surgery.  Testing is often performed on patients to see if the surgery is appropriate for them. 

By Joan Russell

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