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SCKMC's Surgeon Applauds Bravo Device

July 11, 2014

South Central Kansas Medical Center and general surgeon Dr. Tyson Blatchford are leaders in the State for the advanced treatment of GERD (gastro esophageal reflux disease), more commonly known as chronic heartburn. Dr. Blatchford is one of only a handful of surgeons in Kansas trained to perform the state-of-the-art incisionless surgery known as the EsophyX TIF procedure to correct the physical problem at the source of the disease.

Arkansas City, KS - South Central Kansas Medical Center and general surgeon Dr. Tyson Blatchford are leaders in the State for the advanced treatment of GERD (gastro esophageal reflux disease), more commonly known as chronic heartburn. Dr. Blatchford is one of only a handful of surgeons in Kansas trained to perform the state-of-the-art incisionless surgery known as the EsophyX TIF procedure to correct the physical problem at the source of the disease.

Now Dr. Blatchford and SCKMC are once again leading the way by partnering with Given Imaging to test for chronic acid reflux through the use of Bravo, an encapsulated transmitter temporarily attached to the patient's esophagus.

The Bravo is a gelcap sized, microchip device that is placed during an evaluation endoscopy for acid reflux. The Bravo capsule clips onto the esophagus and reads the amount of acid that enters the esophagus from the stomach over a 48-hour period. After the test is complete, the disposable capsule falls off the wall of the esophagus and passes naturally through the patient's digestive tract.

"During the testing period if (the patient) feel acid reflux symptoms they hit a button. At the end of the 48-hours the patient brings the receiver back. The computer inside looks at the actual number of reflux episodes and the changes of the acidity and it correlates with how many times the patient presses the button and feels the symptoms. That gives us a composite score of how likely their symptoms are related to acid reflux. This allows us to more accurately pinpoint the patients who truly have acid reflux and need a potential minimally invasive procedure to fix the problem," said Dr. Blatchford.

The classical symptoms of acid reflux include a burning sensation, chest pain, regurgitation, belching, bloating, and fullness. It has been reported through various medical studies that up to sixty-percent of the population will experience acid reflux throughout the course of a year, and twenty to thirty-percent will experience symptoms on a weekly basis.

"GERD is a very common problem. A lot of people have acid reflux. It's actually quite normal to have occasional reflux, particularly if you overeat or eat something that doesn't agree with your stomach. Most often by the time I see a patient with acid reflux they've had it for a long time," Dr. Blatchford said. "They have been on medication daily for weeks or even years prior to seeking medical attention. If you've been on medication for a long time and it controls your symptoms, but if you miss a couple of days and the symptoms return most often times that warrants further study."

Dr. Blatchford hopes that the use of this advanced technology will encourage more people to receive treatment for their chronic acid reflux.

"This is a huge advancement in the evaluation of reflux. Traditionally testing has been done by having to put a tube through your nose, down into your esophagus, and wearing the tube coming out of your nose for 24-hours. It's a big deterrent for a lot of patients to have the 24-hour test the old way because they can't tolerate having something stuck down their nose and then wear it for 24-hours. The bravo is much more "normal" feeling," Dr. Blatchford said.

Typically the first step taken by Dr. Blatchford in diagnosing GERD is performing an upper endoscopy, a scope that goes down the throat to evaluate the esophagus, on the patient. The Bravo capsule can be placed during this initial endoscopy allowing the physician to gather the information to make the decision if the patient is a candidate for the incisionless TIF procedure.

"The Bravo comes into play when you have someone who may have the A-typical symptoms, nasal drainage, cough, chronic clearing of the throat, and there is really no classic burning coming up the chest. This device does allow us to pinpoint a more accurate diagnosis. If the symptoms are a little vague and non-specific it certainly is a very useful tool," explained Dr. Blatchford.

Dr. Blatchford believes that the combination of the Bravo testing and EsophyX TIF procedure will be able to improve the quality of life for his patients.

"To me it's about patient convenience. This is all about making a more convenient, quicker recovery for the patient so they can return back to work and live their normal lifestyle," said Dr. Blatchford.

Pictured: The Bravo transmitter.