POSTED: Sunday, April 22, 2012 - 11:00pm
UPDATED: Sunday, April 22, 2012 - 11:04pm
NBC NATIONAL NEWS — A string of magnets could mean the answer to those who suffer from heartburn and haven't found relief with diet or lifestyle changes.
Doctors at the University of California San Diego placed a LINX device into a patient Monday, the first surgery of its kind since the FDA approved the string of titanium beads that create a loop or ring shape to treat chronic heartburn.
A medical student at UCSD who suffered from severed gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD) for about ten years was selected to receive the first implant since government approval.
Adi Price said he had used proton pump inhibitors for many years until they got to a point where the treatment wasn't working.
Surgeons place the magnets around a portion of the patient's esophagus in a laparoscopic surgery.
The magnets open up as food goes down the esophagus and closes to keep acid from coming out when food is in the stomach.
"Unlike drugs that suppress stomach acids, this flexible device corrects the anatomy and immediately addresses the actual source of reflux," Dr. Santiago Horgan explains.
Horgan, chief of minimally invasive surgery at UC San Diego Health System, was one of the nation's leaders in the clinical trials leading to the device's FDA approval.
He and his surgical team performed more than 20 surgeries during the clinical, representing the most surgeries in the second phase of procedures that led to FDA approval, according to the hospital.
"We like UC San Diego to be the place that innovation occurs," Horgan said.
GERD is a chronic digestive disease that can lead to severe inflammation, stricture, Barrett's esophagus and esophageal cancer.
The surgery, described as minimally invasive, has shown to provide immediate relief according to a UC San Diego spokesperson. Patients can leave the hospital the same day as the surgery.
The FDA approved the LINX Reflux Management System, manufactured by Torax Medical Inc., in March 2012.