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Pills, Surgery Both Effective for Chronic Reflux: Study
Date:5/18/2011

By Steven Reinberg
HealthDay Reporter

TUESDAY, May 17 (HealthDay News) -- Both surgery and popular medications such as Nexium, Prevacid or Prilosec can successfully treat the discomfort of chronic reflux, according to new research.

Millions of Americans experience what's known formally as chronic gastroesophageal reflux disease, or GERD. The condition is caused by acidic stomach contents washing up into the esophagus. GERD can have a debilitating effect on sleep, work and general quality of life.

However, "we have made very dramatic improvement in our treatment of GERD, that's the good news," said lead researcher Dr. Jean-Paul Galmiche, a professor of gastroenterology in the College of Medicine at Nantes University in France. Treatments include laparoscopic surgical fixes and the use of proton pump inhibitor (PPI) drugs such as Nexium (esomeprazole), Prilosec (omeprazole) and Prevacid (lansoprazole).

The new study -- which was funded by Nexium's maker, AstraZeneca -- found "dramatic improvement in the results of surgery and excellent results also with medical therapy," he stated. There was no real difference between the medical and surgical approaches in terms of their overall ability to ease GERD, "which was not expected," Galmiche said.

Each treatment option did have its merits and demerits, however. For example, with surgery there is less regurgitation than with the medications, Galmiche said, but on the other hand, "you have more bloating and flatulence after surgery."

This means that the choice of one treatment over the other is really up to the patient, he said. If you don't want to take pills for the rest of your life you may opt for surgery, or if you fear surgical complications you can opt for PPIs. "You can choose your preferred treatment," Galmiche said.

The report was published in the May 18 issue of the Journal of the American Medical Association.

The study included 5
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