Radiofrequency Ablation for Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease

What is Radiofrequency Ablation for Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease

Radiofrequency ablation for gastroesophageal reflux disease is a treatment to relieve the symptoms of gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD).

In GERD, stomach acid backs up into the esophagus, which is the part of the body that moves food from your mouth to your stomach. GERD is a long-term (chronic) condition that can cause severe heartburn and other problems.

Normally, the muscle between the stomach and the esophagus (lower esophageal sphincter, or LES) keeps stomach fluids in the stomach. For people with GERD, the LES may not work properly, allowing stomach fluids to flow up into the esophagus (reflux).

During radiofrequency ablation for GERD, heat from high-energy radio waves (radiofrequency energy) is used to tighten the LES and reduce reflux.

Radiofrequency ablation for GERD may be an option for you if diet, lifestyle changes, and medicines to treat GERD have not helped.

Tell a health care provider about:

  • Any allergies you have.
  • All medicines you are taking, including vitamins, herbs, eye drops, creams, and over-the-counter medicines.
  • Any problems you or family members have had with anesthetic medicines.
  • Any blood disorders you have.
  • Any surgeries you have had.
  • Any medical conditions you have.
  • Whether you are pregnant or may be pregnant.

What are the risks?

Generally, this is a safe procedure. However, problems may occur, including:

  • Injury to the gums or teeth, or bleeding in the mouth.
  • Difficulty swallowing (dysphagia).
  • Bloating.
  • Chest pain.
  • Fever.
  • Pneumonia.
  • Allergic reactions to medicines.
  • A hole in the esophagus (perforation).
  • A need for a different surgical procedure.

What happens before the procedure?

  • Ask your health care provider about:
    • Changing or stopping your regular medicines. This is especially important if you are taking diabetes medicines or blood thinners.
    • Taking medicines such as aspirin and ibuprofen. These medicines can thin your blood. Do not take these medicines unless your health care provider tells you to take them.
    • Taking over-the-counter medicines, vitamins, herbs, and supplements.
  • Follow instructions from your health care provider about eating or drinking restrictions.
  • Plan to have someone take you home from the hospital or clinic.
  • Plan to have a responsible adult care for you for at least 24 hours after you leave the hospital or clinic. This is important.

What happens during the procedure?

  • An IV will be inserted into one of your veins.
  • You will be given:
    • A medicine to help you relax (sedative).
    • A medicine to numb the throat area (local anesthetic). This will be injected directly into your throat area.
  • You will be positioned on your side.
  • A tool that is like a flexible telescope (endoscope) will be inserted through your mouth and down your esophagus to the level of your LES. The scope may also be passed into your stomach to look at the inside of your stomach.
  • During the endoscopy, your health care provider will measure the distance from your teeth to your LES.
  • The endoscope will be removed, and a long, flexible tube (catheter) will be inserted through your mouth down to your LES.
  • Radiofrequency energy will be delivered to your LES.
  • The catheter will be removed, and the endoscopy will be repeated to make sure that the procedure has been done properly.

The procedure may vary among health care providers and hospitals.

What happens after the procedure?

  • You may have to stay in a recovery area for a while for monitoring.
  • Your blood pressure, heart rate, breathing rate, and blood oxygen level will be monitored until the medicines you were given have worn off.
  • You will be given pain medicine as needed.
  • Do not drive for 24 hours if you were given a sedative during your procedure.

Summary

  • Radiofrequency ablation for gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD) is done to treat reflux, which occurs when stomach fluids flow up into the esophagus.
  • In radiofrequency ablation for GERD, heat from high-energy radio waves (radiofrequency energy) is used to tighten the muscle between the stomach and the esophagus.
  • During the procedure, an endoscope is inserted through the mouth and down into the esophagus.

Radiofrequency Ablation for Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease, Care After

This sheet gives you information about how to care for yourself after your procedure. Your health care provider may also give you more specific instructions. If you have problems or questions, contact your health care provider.

What can I expect after the procedure?

After the procedure, it is common to have:

  • Sore throat.
  • Bloating.
  • Tightness when swallowing.

Follow these instructions at home:

  • Rest at home on the day of your procedure. Return to your normal activities as told by your health care provider.
  • Take over-the-counter and prescription medicines only as told by your health care provider.
    • Do not take any over-the-counter pain medicines unless your health care provider says you can.
    • You may be told to crush your medicines or take liquid forms for 1 month after the procedure.
  • Do not drive for 24 hours if you were given a medicine to help you relax (sedative) during your procedure.
  • Follow instructions from your health care provider about eating or drinking restrictions.
    • You may need to eat a liquid diet for 24 hours and a soft diet for 2 weeks after your procedure.
    • You can then begin to eat what you usually do.
  • Keep all follow-up visits as told by your health care provider. This is important.

Contact a health care provider if:

  • You have a fever.
  • You have a cough.
  • You have abdominal pain.
  • You have a sore throat or a feeling of tightness when swallowing that lasts longer than 2 days.

Get help right away if:

  • You develop chest pain.
  • You have trouble breathing.
  • You have trouble swallowing.
  • You have severe abdominal pain.
  • You throw up blood.
  • You have blood in your stool (feces).

Summary

  • After the procedure, it is common to have a sore throat, bloating, or tightness when swallowing.
  • Follow instructions from your health care provider about eating or drinking and when you can return to your normal activities.
  • Take over-the-counter and prescription medicines only as told by your health care provider.
  • Make sure you know which symptoms should cause you to contact your health care provider or to get help right away.
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