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Dr. Blatchford Performs New Reflux Procedure

December 8, 2016

On December 6th Dr. Tyson Blatchford, general surgeon at South Central Kansas Medical Center, became one of only four physicians in the state to perform a new surgery designed to control acid reflux. Three patients received a surgical implant, called LINX, to prevent stomach acid from entering the esophagus. The LINX procedure is considered by Blatchford to be a preferable option for treatment compared to more traditional reflux surgeries.

On December 6th Dr. Tyson Blatchford, general surgeon at South Central Kansas Medical Center, became one of only four physicians in the state to perform a new surgery designed to control acid reflux. Three patients received a surgical implant, called LINX, to prevent stomach acid from entering the esophagus. The LINX procedure is considered by Blatchford to be a preferable option for treatment compared to more traditional reflux surgeries.

“The LINX procedure, I would call it what Microsoft is to computers. It’s the next generation of acid reflux treatment. It has shown equal, if not better, efficacy in controlling acid reflux compared to the standard Nissen fundoplication and certainly a better quality of life then having to take pills daily,” Blatchford said.

Prior to the LINX, Nissen fundoplication and the non-invasive TIF procedure were considered to be the primary treatment options for patients who could no longer find relief through medication alone.

“The problem with the Nissen is that it creates a one way valve. It lets things go down, but can’t come back up. We construct a valve that is 50 times stronger than it should be; because that was the only procedure we had to offer patients. Not that the Nissen is bad, but the LINX is a whole other thing we can offer that is better. And with the TIF procedure we thought we hit a home run with a procedure that did not require surgical incisions on the abdomen, but we have found out that we are unable to address the hiatal hernia repair. This is a key part of the surgical procedure to control acid reflux,” Blatchford said.

The roughly quarter-sized LINX is a flexible ring of small magnets placed around the lower esophagus during a minimally invasive procedure. The strength of the magnets help to keep the esophagus closed to prevent acid reflux, but stretch open to allow liquid and food to pass into the stomach, while preserving the ability to belch or vomit when needed.   

“A lot of thought went into this and we are certainly excited to be able to offer (LINX) as an option. Myself and only three other surgeons in Kansas offer the LINX procedure. I feel fortunate that now I am able to branch out and offer an additional procedure that certainly can benefit the patient,” Blatchford said.

A team of experts joined Dr. Blatchford for his initial procedures including Brad Collier, medical representative for Torax Medical Inc. developer of the LINX device, and Dr. Gregory Pittman who served as the physician proctor.

“We are moving forward to develop a reflux center of excellence (at SCKMC) because of our high volume of acid reflux surgery and my years of experience handling patients who have had Nissens. From a technical standpoint it is much easier to put this device in than it is to do a Nissen fundoplication. A lot of the key maneuvers and surgical technique are the same, it’s just a matter of a new approach and handling a new device to be sure there are no issues,” Blatchford said.

Patients who have the procedure are admitted to the hospital overnight to control incisional pain and to meet with the medical center’s dietitian to review dietary restrictions.

“With the LINX we actually start you back on small meals and regular food pretty much right away. It is a whole different philosophy. We want to exercise the device to help it be pliable as it heals in versus (other acid reflux procedures) where we want to rest it and have an eight week strict diet,” Blatchford said.

Patients considering surgery for acid reflux must schedule a consultation with Dr. Blatchford and his team to determine if they are eligible for the procedure. 

“We want to ensure that you are an appropriate candidate for the procedure, which is why we have an initial consultation. There are a series of things we need to know: if you have a hiatal hernia, if your esophagus is strong enough to push the food through the valve, and overall physical condition. We want to make sure each and every individual has the outcome that they desire,” Blatchford said.

For more information on LINX and acid reflux treatment contact the South Central Kansas Specialty Clinic at (620) 441- 5711.

Pictured: (from left) Brad Collier, medical representative for Torax Medical Inc.; Racquel Szabo, physician assistant for Dr. Blatchford; Dr. Tyson Blatchford, general surgeon at SCKMC, and Dr. Gregory Pittman, physician proctor, perform a new surgery at SCKMC designed to control acid reflux.