People with acid reflux may soon have an alternative to antacids and other oral treatments. Mayo Clinic researchers are reporting success in treating reflux patients with low-level electrical pulses that strengthen the esophageal muscle valve that keeps stomach acid from backing up into the throat.
The technique, presented this week at a meeting of the American College of Gastroenterology in Las Vegas, was found to be effective in treating symptoms of gastroesophageal reflux (GERD) in small numbers of patients who had a device implanted that uses electrical stimulation to strengthen a weak or dysfunctional lower esophageal sphincter (LES).
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Two studies by investigators Michael Crowell, of Mayo Clinic Scottsdale, and Dr. Edy Soffer, of the University of Southern California, compared the use of electrical stimulation to acid-suppressing medications known as proton pump inhibitors in 25 patients. They found that 12 months after the device — manufactured by the Netherlands-based EndoStim BV company — was implanted, patients experienced significant improvements in their symptoms.
“Electrical stimulation of the lower esophageal sphincter is effective for treating patients with GERD over long-term year duration,” they concluded.
In a separate study, researchers at the University Medical Center Utrecht in Rotterdam, found improvements in 11 GERD patients implanted with an electrical device — 10 of whom were able to stop taking acid-reducing medications.