Traditionally, sufferers from heartburn had two options: Medication or the complete avoidance of any foods that might trigger acid reflux. Now, there is a third option, and it works using magnets.
Doctors have developed the LINX Reflux Management System to treat those with chronic acid reflux, which is a condition that occurs when stomach acid leaks up into the esophagus. This system is a bracelet of interlinked titanium beads that have cores of permanent magnets. In a minimally invasive surgery, this ring of magnets is placed around the esophagus just above the stomach.
When the patient swallows, the esophagus expands to allow food into the stomach, breaking the magnetic connection. However, the magnets are strong enough to prevent stomach acid from leaking up into the esophagus, thereby preventing heartburn.
So far, seven patients have undergone the procedure. One of them was 75-year-old Maxie Inman, who has been dealing with chronic heartburn since he was a teenager, according to The Post and Courier.
And how does he feel since the surgery?
“I’m in hog heaven as far as food is concerned,” he told The Post and Courier. “I can eat anything I want.”
Inman said that the recovery involved chest pain, constant hunger and nausea, but all of the symptoms have since passed.
All seven procedures have been performed by Dr. David Adams of the Medical University of South Carolina, who believes that the LINX will be a great option for many chronic sufferers of heartburn, though it is not appropriate for everyone. For example, Adams notes, those with a weak or precancerous esophagus or the morbidly obese would not be candidates for the surgery. Adams told The Post and Courier that of approximately 19 million Americans who suffer from heartburn, only about 500,000 would be eligible candidates for LINX.