Bracelet-Like Device Confirmed as Safe, Effective Heartburn Treatment
A magnetic, bracelet-like device has been found to be a safe and effective form of treatment for heartburn for up to five years. The LINX device was approved by America’s Food and Drug Administration (FDA) in 2012, and has been investigated by University of Minnesota researchers, who now say that no new safety risks have arisen at the five-year check-up point.
The LINX implant helps to treat gastro-oesophageal reflux disease (GERD), which is caused by a weak lower oesophageal sphincter muscle. This weakness allows harmful gastric fluid to reflux from the stomach, causing heartburn, regurgitation and injury to the oesophageal lining. The condition can also trigger a persistent cough and is sometimes associated with chronic sleep disruption.
The device is a small flexible band made up of magnetic titanium beads, and is placed around the oesophagus via minimally invasive key-hole surgery. The magnets help to improve the oesophageal sphincter’s ability to prevent reflux, thereby preventing or reducing symptoms like heartburn.
The University of Minnesota study revealed that, over the last five years, LINX has reduced the levels of acid in the oesophagus to normal levels in patients, and significantly improved their quality of life. It has allowed those patients to get by without having to take proton pump inhibitors (PPIs) – acid suppression medications.
The researchers conclude that the device should be considered as a first-line treatment for acid reflux.
“This study demonstrates the LINX procedure provides significant and durable improvement in heartburn, regurgitation, PPI independence and quality of life,” says Dr Robert Ganz, chief of gastroenterology at Abbott Northwestern Hospital and associate professor of medicine at the University of Minnesota. “Patients can now have a relatively simple procedure to restore their sphincter function and avoid the invasiveness required in fundoplication procedures. In my view, LINX represents the next generation of anti-reflux treatment.”