Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease or GERD, sometimes referred to as heartburn, is the abnormal backward flow or reflux of stomach acid into the esophagus (the food pipe connecting the mouth and the stomach).
GERD is sometimes associated with a defect in the diaphragm muscle that separates the abdomen from the chest, also known as a Hiatal Hernia. The most common reason for GERD is the failure of the Lower Esophageal Sphincter complex (LES) at the junction of the stomach and the esophagus. The LES functions as a valve to prevent reflux. GERD is a complex medical problem that often requires a detailed workup to determine the cause and treatment.
Most GERD is treatable by avoiding certain foods and liquids that activate it or with medications to reduce acid. When medications no longer work or there is a large or complicated hiatal hernia, surgery is sometimes recommended.
All surgeries for GERD attempt to “recreate” the LES to prevent continuing reflux. This is typically accomplished by closing the defect in the muscle to repair the hernia and wrapping the stomach around the last part of the esophagus.