Heartburn treatment in Central Virginia

Experiencing symptoms of gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD) can complicate your everyday life, and, if left untreated, can lead to more serious conditions, such as esophageal cancer.

At HCA Virginia Physicians, our gastroenterologists provide advanced treatments—including Nissen fundoplication—for GERD and its underlying conditions.

To seek care for heartburn and acid reflux, visit one of our expert physicians in Richmond or Fredericksburg.

To schedule a surgical appointment for heartburn and reflux, visit our expert gastrointestinal surgeon in Richmond.

Advanced treatment for GERD

GERD is a condition resulting from persistent reflux — when the stomach acid is not properly contained in the stomach and rises into the esophagus.

When traditional methods aren't enough to successfully manage GERD, our heartburn and reflux specialists perform advanced procedures to treat the condition. These procedures include:

  • Heller myotomy for achalasia – Heller myotomy is a minimally invasive procedure opening the esophageal sphincter, the valve between the stomach and the esophagus, to relieve difficulty swallowing. This can also reduce the amount of reflux a patient experiences.
  • Insertion of magnetic devices for reflux – There are certain devices created to reduce the symptoms of GERD using magnets. Once implanted, the magnetic attraction within the device helps the lower esophagus resist opening from gastric pressure, thereby reducing reflux.
  • Minimally invasive electromagnetic procedure – During this procedure, electromagnetic waves are directed at the lower esophagus, which decreases sensitivity to acid and ultimately lowers the amount of reflux a patient experiences.
  • Nissen fundoplication – During a Nissen fundoplication, the upper part of the stomach is wrapped around the lower end of the esophagus. When the stomach contracts, it will then close off the esophagus as well, instead of pushing acid into the esophagus.
  • Paraesophageal hernia repair – Paraesophageal hernia repair is a minimally invasive technique. It is used when the stomach pushes up through the opening to the esophagus and causes reflux. The procedure returns the stomach back to its normal position.

Risk factors for GERD

Certain factors and lifestyle choices put patients at a greater risk of experiencing GERD, such as:

  • A diet containing alcohol, citrus, caffeinated beverages, tomato-based foods or spicy foods
  • Being age 40 years old or older
  • Being overweight
  • Diabetes
  • Jobs requiring bending or heavy lifting
  • Pregnancy
  • Smoking

Symptoms of GERD

The symptoms of GERD can be very painful, and, if left untreated, harmful to the digestive system. Extreme cases of GERD can lead to esophagitis, Barrett’s esophagus, esophageal stricture and, less commonly, esophageal cancer.

Most symptoms of GERD can usually be recognized by the patient. If you are experiencing any of the following symptoms for an extended period of time, however, you may consider visiting a gastroenterologist.

Symptoms can include:

  • Chest pain
  • Chronic, non-productive dry cough
  • Difficulty swallowing
  • Heartburn twice or more a week
  • Shortness of breath, wheezing

Heartburn and Reflux Center in Richmond

Our specialists in Richmond work as part of a multidisciplinary team at Henrico Doctors' Hospital which is home to the Heartburn and Reflux Center. Gastroenterologists, surgeons, and specialized nurses work together to provide comprehensive care for patients and treat even the most complex cases of GERD, helping patients improve their quality of life.