January 9, 2004
by Ed Yeates
About four months ago, Judy Davis walked into Pioneer Valley Hospital for a quick outpatient implant to repair the faulty valve between her stomach and esophagus.
Years of heartburn in the throat have muffled her soprano voice. She was maxed out on acid suppression medications. "I was on Nexium. It did nothing. Then he put me on Prilosec."
But that was then. "I could not talk when I had the surgery. Within twenty minutes, I was able to talk."
Why an almost immediate recovery? Doctor Martin Radwin ran a scope and catheter down Judy’s throat and injected small amounts of a liquid polymer inside what is called the esophageal sphincter. The polymer expanded and solidified producing a circular implant inside the muscle.
It still opens to let food through, but closes now to keep stomach acid where it belongs. "We’re trying to get people off medications, younger patients who do not want to stay on medicines their whole lives or just not doing as well as they would like to on medications," said Dr. Radwin.
The medical team at Pioneer has since tried the procedure on patients with more serious complications. One man had bleeding ulcers in the esophagus, but didn't want surgery. He had the implant. Six weeks later, the tissue has almost healed.
Judy’s soprano voice is back because the acid is gone. She'll probably need one more implant to complete the repair.
For more information, you can log onto the FDA's webpage
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