Magnetic bracelet helps some get relief from acid reflux

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OVERLAND PARK, Kan. -- Eating and sleeping can be difficult when acid comes up from the stomach into the esophagus. That causes burning chest pain. The condition is called GERD, which is short for gastroesophageal reflux disease. A little magnetic bracelet is helping some people get relief.

Heartburn happens to many of us after eating spicy food, but Seth Davis had heartburn with any type of food.

"Even just eating fruits and vegetables, I would get acid reflux from it," Davis said.

Medications no longer provided relief day or night. So Davis saw Dr. Todd Moore at Saint Luke's South who recommended he get a bracelet for his esophagus.

Image courtesy of Torax Medical

Image courtesy of Torax Medical

It's called LINX. The surgeon makes five small incisions for the instruments used to place the device. The bracelet goes around the sphincter, the muscle that in Davis's case wasn't keeping acid from coming up. The beads are magnetic, keeping the sphincter closed and acid in the stomach. But the attraction is weak enough to allow food through.

"They stay all together most of the time. When you swallow, they expand and allow food to pass through the lower part of the esophagus," Dr. Moore said.

It's been three weeks since Davis's surgery. He's had some side effects including hiccups that hurt and difficulty swallowing. Dr. Moore said that's to be expected.

"We see those symptoms last up to a couple of months after surgery, and they will usually diminish over time," he said.

The good news for Davis? The acid reflux is gone.

"I haven't had any at all since the surgery," he said.

Even after eating Mexican food.

"Now it's like I can eat these and it's not gonna impact if I'm gonna sleep tonight or not," Davis said.

Dr. Moore said side effects after this surgery don't seem to be as bad as they are after traditional surgery for reflux. That involves wrapping part of the stomach around the bottom of the esophagus.