The surgical procedure used to treat gastroesophageal reflux disease is called fundoplication. In this procedure, the upper part of the stomach (the fundus) is wrapped behind the esophagus and attached to the esophagus in back and the stomach in front. This keeps the esophagus in place in the abdomen. This procedure is effective and relatively free of complications.
At Cedars-Sinai fundoplication is done using minimally invasive techniques. Five small incision are made. These incisions allow the surgeon to insert instruments and use a tiny camera to watch the surgery. The abdomen is pumped up with gas to make it easier for the surgeon to see what he or she is doing.
In rare cases, it is not possible to fundoplication using minimally invasive techniques. In that case, open traditional surgery can be used.
Minimally invasive techniques allow for faster healing with less scarring and less risk of complications.
Following the surgery, the patient may need to eat a special diet for five to 10 days until the swelling from the surgery done on the stomach and esophagus go down.
Because the surgery tightens the opening between the stomach and the esophagus, a child who has had fundoplication will not burp or be able to vomit normally. (If a child does have to vomit, he or she will have dry heaves. As the swelling from the surgery goes away and normal eating stretches the wrap, a child will again be able to burp and vomit normally.
If a baby or child swallows a lot of air when he or she eats, the doctor can give medicines that can break up the gas and ease any pain.
In most cases, babies or children who have had fundoplication recover well without any complications or lasting problems.