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Am J Med. 2000 Mar 6;108 Suppl 4a:181S-191S.

Life after antireflux surgery.

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  • 1Department of Medicine, Medical College of Wisconsin, Milwaukee 53226, USA.


Laparoscopic fundoplication technique has become the operative modality of choice for antireflux surgery. An increasing number of patients and physicians have enthusiastically embraced this "minimally-invasive" technologic development for treatment of gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD). However, laparoscopic fundoplication has been frequently advertised as the therapeutic solution for all GERD patients. Subsequently, the number and severity of complications resulting from laparoscopic surgery--often performed indiscriminately--has increased dramatically. This article reviews the efficacy of the laparoscopic fundoplication operation for GERD based on current, relatively short-term reports from centers specializing in this treatment modality. The majority of these reports are very positive. Unfortunately, the results of fundoplication operations performed by community surgeons are unknown. There are a number of disturbing factors relating to laparoscopic treatment for GERD that should raise a red flag of caution to the medical community, particularly primary-care physicians and their patients. The central portion of this report devotes itself to discussing the problems associated with this new minimally-invasive technique for fundoplication operations. These problems include the selectivity of current reports on outcomes of the laparascopic fundoplication operation and the lack of uniform data acquisition associated with these postoperative studies. The technical difficulties of the laparascopic fundoplication surgery are discussed, and the need for operator expertise and appreciation of esophageal physiology and anatomy are stressed. Finally, the long-term durability of the fundoplication wrap is questioned and the morbidity associated with the operation--particularly dysphagia--is addressed. In the final segment, the complications encountered after laparoscopic fundoplication operations are detailed and the techniques for evaluating the symptomatic postfundoplication patient are discussed. Laparoscopic fundoplication operation is good therapy in an appropriate clinical setting when performed by a well-trained and experienced surgeon. However, the operation should not be first-line therapy for the majority of GERD patients. An esophagus disabled by an inappropriate or dysfunctional fundoplication wrap is a terrible price to pay for control of acid reflux.

[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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