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What is Stretta and How Does it Help Heartburn?


What is Stretta?

Stretta Therapy is an outpatient procedure that significantly decreases symptoms caused by acid reflux. It’s a non-surgical, minimally invasive approach that is an alternative to surgery for people suffering from chronic gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD) or laryngopharyngeal reflux disease (LPRD).

Stretta is generally well-tolerated, only takes about an hour, and patients may return to normal activities the day after the procedure. It’s the only available treatment that addresses the structural cause of GERD without altering or stitching the stomach or esophagus.

Most patients experience relief of their symptoms for years afterward and are very happy with the results.

Is Stretta right for me?

Stretta may be a good option for many patients. Stretta might be right for you if you:

  • Are not getting the relief you need from medications
  • Want to stop taking proton pump inhibitors (PPIs)
  • Want to avoid traditional surgery
  • Previously had anti-reflux or bariatric surgery, still have GERD, and don’t want to undergo surgery again.

How does Stretta work?

Stretta is a unique procedure that uses low-power, low-temperature radio frequency (RF) to make the lower esophageal sphincter (LES) muscle stronger.

The LES is a muscle that works like a valve, opening to allow food to pass into your stomach then closing to keep stomach contents from leaking into the esophagus. It stays tightly closed most of the time.

When you swallow, your LES relaxes to allow food and liquids to pass into your stomach. Normally, it tightens up afterward. When it isn’t working correctly, stomach contents can spill into your esophagus or throat, causing these familiar symptoms:

  • pain or burning in the chest
  • difficulty swallowing
  • sour taste in your mouth
  • bloating
  • sore throat
  • chronic cough
  • hoarseness
  • asthma
  • bronchitis
  • choking
  • sinusitis
  • sleep apnea

Stretta can provide relief from those symptoms, significantly improving your quality of life.
During the procedure, your gastroenterologist directs a Stretta catheter through your mouth, down to the LES. Once in position, the Stretta device delivers RF energy into the LES muscle.

This results in your body remodeling your LES, making it stronger and thicker, which improves its ability to act as a barrier between your stomach and esophagus.

It also decreases the episodes of random relaxation in the LES that may contribute to acid reflux. Most people have 2-3 episodes of relaxation per hour. With GERD, you may have dozens per hour. All those relaxations can allow stomach contents to leak up into the esophagus.

How quickly will I recover?

Most people feel tired after the procedure due to the sedation used. You may also have a sore throat or feel sore in your chest from the Stretta catheter.

You should be able to resume normal activities the next day, with some dietary restrictions. You may notice that you feel a sensation of food moving down into your stomach.

Because it takes time for your body to remodel muscle fibers, your symptoms won’t improve immediately but will resolve slowly. It may take about two weeks for the tissue to heal, and you may begin to feel relief at that time. You may continue to improve for 8-12 months. For the first several weeks, you will still need to take your acid-reducing medication.

What are the risks of Stretta?

After your procedure, you may feel a sore throat or soreness in the chest. A small percentage of people will experience bloating, belching, or excess gas.

Complications are rare, but could include:

  • Gas/bloating
  • Irritation from the Stretta catheter (erosive esophagitis)
  • Injury to the throat from the catheter (esophageal perforation)
  • Food staying in the stomach for too long (gastroparesis)
  • Reaction to the sedation used

Stretta has been used and studied for over ten years and performed on thousands of patients. It’s been proven safe and effective in clinical studies. Symptom relief lasts from 4-10 years, with most patients still enjoying relief after 10. Most patients can significantly decrease or stop their use of PPIs after their procedure.

Don’t suffer from chronic GERD any longer – schedule an appointment to discuss Stretta today!

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