LINX® Reflux Management System
How does the LINX Procedure work?
The LINX® device is a thin, bracelet of magnets that is surgically placed around the lower esophageal sphincter to control reflux. The magnets are encapsulated in titanium beads and connected to one another by titanium wires. The LINX® surgery is an outpatient surgical procedure performed using minimally invasive surgical methods either robotically or laparoscopically. During this procedure, the hiatus, stomach and esophagus are carefully assessed. If there is a hiatal hernia a hiatal hernia repair is performed. Then the diameter of the esophagus is measured and an appropriate size LINX® device is selected based on this measurement. The band of magnets is wrapped around the lower esophageal sphincter and fastened together with a proprietary clasping system.
The LES function is benefitted from the device’s increased opening pressure after it has been successfully implanted allowing passage of food down all the while making it more difficult to reflux. When the patient swallows, the lower esophagus will push the food causing the magnets to open, allowing the food to travel into the stomach. After the patient has finished swallowing, the magnetic attraction between the beads will assist the LES in contracting once more. When the LINX® device is closed and in its resting state, it increases the opening pressure of the lower esophageal sphincter thereby decreasing reflux episodes.
Patients are able to return home the same day after undergoing the LINX® procedure because it is an outpatient surgery.
Around 90% of patients are able to stop daily need for antacid medications.
Post-operative bloating is usually short-lived, either back to baseline or better than baseline by 6 months.
Most patients state that they can vomit if they needed to.
In the event that a Nissen fundoplication becomes necessary at a later date, the procedure can be converted.
It is technically a reversible procedure in that the LINX® device can be safely removed by a surgeon who has experience with placing them.
LINX® is an excellent choice for many individuals who have GERD that is mild to moderate, but just like any other procedure, it does come with a few potential risks, including the following:
The LINX® procedure was first performed in the United States in 2008 and was FDA approved in March of 2012. Because of this, long-term data is 10-12 years old.
Most patients have some difficulty with swallowing or eating quickly for 3 months after surgery.
The LINX® procedure is an outpatient surgery. Patients usually leave a few hours after the procedure when they are fully recovered and able to tolerate a snack. Special diet instructions are provided which detail the importance of eating a bite or two of food while awake every hour for the first few weeks after surgery to decrease scar formation around the device. Patients eat regular foods with a few exceptions, but are instructed to chew their food thoroughly. Patient usually see immediate improvement in their regurgitation and heartburn symptoms and are able to stop their antacid medications immediately. It is recommended that patients take 5-7 days off of work to recuperate and have a weight lifting restriction of nothing greater than 20 pounds for 6 weeks after the surgery. Most patients manage any discomfort with Tylenol and anti-inflammatory medications, but a prescription for a small amount of narcotic medication is provided.