Surgical Intervention for Acid Reflux Brings One Patient Relief
For years, gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD) had a chokehold on Bernice Montefusco, of Wallingford, and Thomas P. Barrett, of Southington.
The pain and complications disrupted their daily lives and even adversely affected their loved ones.
Barrett said he had no interest in his family or even his granddaughter because he was continually plagued by a burning in his esophagus and regurgitation of acid. It was especially bad when he bent over to pick up an item and when he was trying to sleep – which sometimes was impossible. “I had a sick feeling most of the time that lingered. My throat was on fire, and I couldn’t eat or drink. I was tired most of the time,” he said. “I couldn’t do anything – it tied up my life.”
For more than three years he lived with the debilitating condition and found no relief from any medications.
Montefusco’s acid reflux manifested with extreme heaviness in her chest, which she endured for 20 years. “I couldn’t catch my breath. My lungs and heart were checked out and everything was fine. But they couldn’t figure it out,” Montefusco said. She went from physician to physician and tried a chiropractor and naturopath. But no one pinpointed the cause let alone the solution. Through the years she struggled with pulmonary complications including chest spasms, a chronic cough and pneumonia. “I just wanted an explanation. I knew that once it was pinpointed someone could help me,” she said.
“I had a sick feeling most of the time that lingered. My throat was on fire, and I couldn’t eat or drink. I was tired most of the time,” he said. “I couldn’t do anything – it tied up my life.”
– Thomas P. Barrett, of Southington
Montefusco and Barrett were both referred to Dr. Kenneth Schwartz, a minimally invasive surgeon with Hartford HealthCare Medical Group at MidState Medical Center. Testing revealed that they each had hiatal hernias, the protrusion of part of the stomach into the chest.
Schwartz recommended fundoplication, a minor surgical procedure that uses a piece of the stomach to wrap around the lower esophagus to tighten it, preventing stomach acid from rising and causing acid reflux. Both patients experienced relief almost immediately.
“Approximately 90 percent of patients report complete resolution of their reflux symptoms and no longer have a need for medication. In a study that followed patients five years after surgery, the patients reported fewer heartburn and belching episodes, and generally had better feelings of health and vitality,” Schwartz said.
Montefusco said she is back to square dancing and biking, and is able to do more with her granddaughter. “It’s wonderful. I recommend this to anyone. I’m so grateful they figured it out,” she said. “Every day is a gift from God.
Barrett first had his gallbladder removed, which brought some relief. But it was the esophageal surgery in June that cured him. “I have had no pain. I’m my normal self and not taking medications. I’m back to enjoying my family,” he said. “I highly recommend it.”