The Pros & Cons and Costs of TIF Procedures


The Pros & Cons and Costs of TIF Procedures

Transoral Incisionless Fundoplication surgery for GERD has been around about 10 years or more. It is less invasive than traditional surgery and involves wrapping part of the the stomach around the esophagus to strengthen the muscle. Symptoms of GERD include heart burn, upset stomach, regurgitation, vomiting, and bloating.

The surgery is done through the mouth using a small instrument and a camera called an endoscope. It is a partial surgery as they do not wrap the stomach around the esophagus 360 degrees but only 270 to 300. This procedure helps to lengthen and tighten the muscles so acid does not back up and leak into the throat. This surgery is a good option for those that do not suffer from severe GERD or reflux symptoms.

Pros and Cons of TIF Surgery

The surgery has been around about 10 years and proved effective in treating the symptoms of GERD. It has no incisions so patients do not have to worry about scars. The surgery has been known to have about 80% effectiveness. Fortunately, many patients can stop their medications after having the surgery.

Another surgery can be performed down the line if needed. It spares the patient having to recover from a more invasive form of surgery when it may not be needed. The cons are it is not as tight as regular or Nissen surgery and it requires an overnight stay in the hospital. Although it is an outpatient procedure most patients have to stay overnight in the hospital. It is a precautionary measure for complications.

The problem is that often TIF fasteners pull apart over time leading to GERD symptoms. This means that it does not fare well with long term results for some patients. It has minimal pain, few scars, and quicker recovery time. This procedure often inserts a device called an EsophX device into the patient. It creates a natural functioning valve. When the procedure is repeated several times it creates a tight strong valve. 

Patients after the procedure are on a semi liquid diet for two weeks so that scarring can occur. Patients can return to a regular diet about four weeks after the procedure. Doctors do recommend taking at least one week off after the surgery for recovery from TIF surgery.

This operation is performed under general anesthesia and you will be required to not eat or drink for several hours. Most patients experience some pain and discomfort in the stomach, chest, nose, and throat. The operation lasts less than one hour. This surgery can be performed again or another procedure if it does not work properly.

Costs

Most major insurance companies cover about 95% of the procedure. They have payment plans for those insurances that do not cover the procedure. Medicaid does not currently cover TIF, but does cover regular surgery. TIF surgery costs depend on the doctor, location and the hospital where the operation is performed. Prices vary so discuss this with the doctor before undergoing this surgery.

When you have questions contact your insurance plan directly. They may require your surgeon to submit paperwork on the procedure. Some insurances may need pre authorization. Many doctors will help you with this if it is required. You should ask what will be covered by the insurance company and what is not. Try to find out what you will owe before having the operation. 

Overall TIF surgery for GERD has helped many patients get off medications and reduce symptoms. It is important to see a GERD specialist and find out about TIF for reflux. The doctor will know if you are a good candidate for the procedure and whether it is right for you. Don’t suffer from acid reflux and GERD look into TIF surgery as an option for treatment.

By Joan Russell

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