The Stretta® Procedure
What is the role of reflux in GERD?
An estimated 60 million people suffer from Gastroesophageal Reflux
Disease (GERD). Between 15-20 million will experience GERD symptoms
(heartburn) on a daily basis. Heartburn sensation can be triggered
by the presence of acid and non-acid reflux in your esophagus.
The purpose of your esophagus is to allow passage of chewed food
and liquids that you drink to flow downward into your stomach. There
is a valve called the lower esophageal sphincter that separates
the esophagus from the stomach. The primary purpose of this sphincter
valve is to allow the food to pass through and to keep partially
digested food material already in your stomach from flowing upwards.
To help break down and digest food your stomach can produce up
to two liters of very strong acid daily to break down food, to balance
this acid production your stomach may at times contain alkaline
(opposite of acid) components as well as bile. If this partially
digested food flows upwards (reflux) into your esophagus it can
be caustic and painful.
GERD symptoms can be caused by a malfunctioning Lower Esophageal
Sphincter (LES). A malfunctioning LES may allow acid and non-acid
material flow up into the esophagus which can give you a sensation
of heartburn and chest pain. Left untreated GERD can develop into
more serious disease such as Barrett’s Esophagus.
What is the Stretta Procedure?
The Stretta Procedure is an essentially non-invasive, one-time endoluminal
treatment that gently delivers precise radiofrequency (RF) waves
to the gastro esophageal (GE) junction to restore lower esophageal
sphincter function. Once the lower esophageal sphincter function
is restored it will act as a barrier to prevent the upward flow
of gastric contents into your esophagus.
How safe is the Stretta Procedure?
Current data shows that when used by a trained physician, the Stretta
procedure is pretty much as safe as a routine endoscopy procedure,
also called esophagogastroduodenoscopy (EGD). Endoscopy is when
the physician will pass a flexible small tube with camera lens at
the end of the tube (endoscope) in your mouth and pass into your
esophagus and continue into your stomach and duodenum to see if
there are any abnormalities of your upper digestive system.
How is the Stretta Procedure performed?
Similar to a flexible endoscope, the flexible Stretta catheter is
passed through your mouth, down your esophagus to the area just
before the opening of your stomach. This area is called the gastro
esophageal (GE) junction. This area is also called the lower esophageal
sphincter (LES). During the Stretta procedure, precise radiofrequency
(RF) waves are delivered via small, antennae like electrodes attached
to an inflatable balloon that adjusts to the diameter of your LES.
Once the balloon is properly situated, RF energy waves are delivered
to the muscles of the LES in one minute intervals for a total of
14 minutes. The LES area treated is a cuff about one inch in length.
Total procedure time is approximately 30-35 minutes. Post procedure
the treated sphincter will become stronger and will function normally
as a barrier to prevent acid and non-acid reflux from flowing up
into the esophagus. After a short period following the procedure,
most patients are either on significantly reduced amounts of medication
or completely off.
What are the benefits of the procedure?
- Patients who do not respond to stomach
acid reducing medications, also called proton pump inhibitors
(PPI) may benefit from the Stretta procedure.
- Patients who have difficulties with taking medications
or don’t wish to take medications for the rest of their
lives may benefit from for the Stretta procedure.
- Another approach to treat GERD is a minimally invasive
surgical procedure. Patients who are not candidates for surgery
or who don’t wish to undergo surgery may benefit from the
- Compared to laparoscopic surgery, Stretta is a much
less-invasive out patient procedure. Because Stretta is less invasive
it has less side-effects.
- Patients do not need to undergo general anesthesia;
generally only mild sedation is used during the Stretta procedure.
- The entire procedure is less than 40 minutes long and
does not require overnight hospitalization. Most patients resume
their normal activities the next day.
- The Stretta procedure has been performed successfully
on nearly 10,000 patients.
- Studies show that 90 percent of patients who have
received the Stretta procedure would recommend it to a friend.
- More than five years of clinical studies have shown
that after the Stretta procedure there is a significant improvement
in quality of life; with sustainable improvement of GERD symptoms
along with less dependence on stomach acid reducing medications.
What are the side effects?
- Reported side effects include, sore throat
and minor chest pain that can occur for short period of time right
after the procedure.
- Since the treatment site requires time
to improve sphincter function, patients may continue to feel GERD
symptoms during the transition.
Is the Stretta procedure right for me?
Talking to an informed medical professional is the best way to determine
if the Stretta procedure is right for you. Appropriately, physicians
who are not up to date with the procedure may be hesitant to recommend
it. For more information or assistance with finding a trained professional
to speak to, click here.