Make That Extra Spicy

After a new GERD treatment, Eric is ‘back to eating whatever I want’.

Eric Gray likes to eat and speaks passionately about it. “If it’s edible,” as he is fond to say, “it’s meant to be eaten".

Imagine then the angst of living with gastroesophageal reflux disease that often rendered his appetite to oatmeal three times a day because that was the best his stomach could handle at the time. That frustration was compounded by nagging abdominal pain, fits of poor sleep and embarrassing sour burps.

“I had been taking three different prescriptions for the condition for about seven years,” Gray says. “The medication seemed to work at first, but after 3-4 years, the pain would not go away. And at times it would start to increase unexplainably.”

In April, Gray found permanent relief from his symptoms with a new innovative treatment option now offered at Henry Ford Hospital for those living with reflux disease. The treatment involves surgically placing a flexible band of titanium beads around the lower esophagus just above the stomach. Called the Linx device, the beads have magnetic properties that enable the muscles in the esophagus to expand for normal swallowing and to contract to prevent food acid from traveling backwards to the mouth.

I’m Back to Eating Whatever I Want

This innovative treatment option is intended to bring permanent relief to those living with GERD.

Watch the Video

“This is a wonderful device that has been added to our armamentarium for the treatment of gastroesophageal reflux disease,” says Zane Hammoud, M.D, chief of general thoracic surgery at Henry Ford Hospital. “It replicates the physiology of what normally happens in the body.”

An estimated 10 percent to 20 percent of the U.S. population has reflux disease. Two of the most common symptoms are heartburn and food acid flowing back into the mouth.

Dr. Hammoud says most people can control symptoms with over-the-counter medication. For those who require surgery, a procedure called nissen fundoplication is considered the gold standard, though it’s not a long-term solution, he says.

The Linx device – about the size of a quarter – is intended to bring permanent relief for people with reflux disease, Dr. Hammoud says.

The surgery to place the device is performed laparoscopically through tiny incisions, making it much less invasive than fundoplication. It lasts about 45 minutes, and patients go home either that day or the next. Patients are fed immediately after surgery to start stretching the device.

“The more it stretches, the less scar tissue you get around it,” Dr. Hammoud says.

Patients who undergo the procedure with the device have no food restrictions, Dr. Hammoud says, with caution. “We obviously want patients to avoid any triggers for reflux such as caffeine or chocolates or big spicy meals,” he says.

Now, two months removed from surgery, Gray renders himself pain free. Gone, too, are the medications he used to take. He’s also sleeping better.

“I think I’m more surprised at how quickly I healed,” he says, adding that he ran seven miles one week after surgery. “I know in reading the literature there’s about a 12-week period in which the body acclimates to the device. Other than maybe that first or second meal, my body has absorbed the device as the literature says it will. I’ve had no side effects whatsoever.”

As for his appetite, Gray, a Ferndale resident, says proudly, “I’m back to eating whatever I want.” That includes enjoying his preferred flavoring – extra spicy.

One week after surgery, Gray ordered his favorite pizza: a meat lovers deluxe with spicy peppers. The next week, he enjoyed two bowls of homemade chili that he had “kicked up a notch.”

“In my garden, I grow a lot of peppers and have some in the freezer from last season because peppers are one of the things you can freeze. I grow about five, six variations of peppers, from mild to extra hot. And in my recipe, I like to add in the peppers. My recipe calls for the extra hot peppers.”

To schedule a consultation to determine whether this treatment option is right for you, call (313) 916-2698.

Take the next step
Let us help you schedule an appointment.