Linx®, an Update

First surgical procedure for permanent GERD relief performed in Kentucky at Saint Joseph Hospital

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LEXINGTON Jason Harris, MD, completed the first successful LINX® surgery in Kentucky on June 5, 2014 at Saint Joseph Hospital in Lexington and established LINX as an option for GERD (gastroesophageal reflux disease) patients in the region. (See MD-UPDATE #85 (April 2014), pg. 21, for more discussion of LINX.)

LINX, a Torax Medical product, is a band of rare earth magnets placed around the base of the esophagus to restore the body’s natural barrier to reflux. Following the laparoscopic procedure, Harris’s first patient, a middle-aged female, described her immediate post-op comfort level, “I can’t even believe I’ve had surgery.”

LINX has an FDA indication for patients with intractable reflux who, despite medication, continue to exhibit symptoms. The LINX device was created to provide patients with a suitable alternative to both the long-term use of proton pump inhibitors and conventional surgery for GERD. The magnets have a high degree of Rare Earth Elements, so their magnetism is enduring; one implant should last the remainder of a patient’s life. The procedure is also considered for GERD sufferers who have prohibitive medication side effects or simply are uncomfortable with-long term medications.

Harris says his first patient found him through internet research. A Louisville resident, she was interested in obtaining a LINX band and learned that he was the sole provider in the Commonwealth. He reports that the procedure, which can be performed on an outpatient basis, was done under general anesthesia and went fully as expected.

While the patient had taken no post-op pain medications other than over-the-counter pain relievers, Harris predicts that from two-to-eight weeks post-op, she can expect some chest pain with meals. This is a natural consequence of the bodies acclimation to the device. Harris explains that not reverting to a liquid diet – a soothing temptation – is contra-indicated at this point. He expects to work with his patient on tactics for moving through this uncomfortable stage without discouragement or regression and contends that personalizing the post-op protocol is standard with LINX emplacement. “Just like a knee replacement, LINX surgery requires some physical therapy to ensure maximum effect,” he adds, noting that, “Ninety percent of patients have resolution of this by eight weeks.”

Kentuckians with GERD now have another option, and Harris says, “LINX is going to take away a lot of the current outcome challenges of traditional anti-reflux surgery.”