Stretta Procedure Effective in Treating GERD

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A treatment for gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD) known as the Stretta procedure has been shown to relieve symptoms such as heartburn and regurgitation, while reducing dependence on medication, according to the results of two new studies released June 29.

Developed by Curon Medical, Inc., the Stretta procedure is a minimally invasive, outpatient endoscopic procedure in which the physician delivers radiofrequency energy to the muscle of the lower esophageal sphincter.

GERD occurs occurs when stomach acid, enzymes and bile “reflux” upward from the stomach into the esophagus through the lower esophageal sphincter, which is normally a one-way valve that allows food to pass into the stomach and stay there. The most common symptom associated with GERD is heartburn.

In one study, Mark D. Noar, MD, a gastroenterologist at the Heartburn and Reflux Center in Towson, MD, studied 202 patients who were followed up to 45 months after undergoing the Stretta procedure as an outpatient procedure under conscious sedation.The patients were referred after failing to achieve adequate control of their GERD symptoms with proton pump inhibitors.

Noar closely followed 72 of these patients for a minimum of 24 months and another 23 patients for more than three years after their Stretta procedure in the largest single center study ever reported for the procedure.

GERD-related quality of life scores improved as well as heartburn scores in these patients.

In a separate study, Rami E. Lufti, MD, of Vanderbilt University School of Medicine, presented data on 61 patients studied up to three years after undergoing the Stretta procedure with an overall satisfaction rate of 73 percent.

“We have been quite satisfied with the clinical results of our experience with the Stretta procedure,” said William Richards, MD, director of laparoendoscopic surgery at Vanderbilt University School of Medicine. “The growing body of clinical evidence continues to confirm not only sustained effectiveness but also the legitimacy of this minimally invasive endoluminal therapy for the treatment of GERD.”

Larry C. Heaton II, president and CEO Curon Medical, said the data from these two studies are not only useful to patients and their physicians who are evaluating treatment options for GERD, but also for insurers who are being asked to provide coverage for the procedure in increasing numbers.

Source: Medical Week staff, week of July 19,2004

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