TIF: Incisionless Surgery to Treat Heartburn/Acid Reflux

Individuals suffering from severe, chronic heartburn or acid reflux that does not respond to medication now have a new surgical treatment option, which does not require any incisions. TIF is the latest treatment for safely and effectively treating chronic gastro esophageal reflux disease (GERD).   Ascension Borgess Allegan Hospital was the first hospital in West Michigan to offer this new procedure called TIF. 

This surgical procedure is performed through the mouth and reconstructs the barrier between the stomach and esophagus to prevent stomach fluids from refluxing up into the esophagus. The procedure typically takes less than one hour and requires an overnight stay at the hospital.

Two year clinical study results show that 79% of patients have completely stopped taking their heartburn medications after having the procedure. Clinical trials also show most patients can eat and drink foods they avoided for many years and can sleep lying flat. Reflux no longer impacts their life like it previously did. 

Frequently Asked Questions

What is GERD?

If you have heartburn twice a week or more, you may have GERD. Heartburn is the most common symptom, but you may also experience:

  • Regurgitation
  • Intolerance of certain foods
  • Sleep disruption (unable to sleep lying down)
  • Hoarseness or sore throat
  • Frequent swallowing
  • Asthma or asthma-like symptoms
  • Pain or discomfort in the chest
  • Bloating
  • Persistent cough
  • Burning in the mouth or throat
  • Dental erosion or therapy-resistant gum disease or inflammation

How is GERD treated?

In addition to dietary controls, medications like non-prescription antacids, PPIs (proton pump inhibitors) and H2 blockers help prevent the acceleration of GERD. Over time, these medications may lose their effectiveness requiring increased dosage, increasing cost and the increasing risk of long term side effects. Invasive surgical procedures such as the Nissen Fundoplication have long been known to be effective therapy for GERD. The risk of adverse events and the invasive nature of these procedures have made them lose popularity in recent years. The TIF procedure offers a minutely invasive surgical solution for the treatment of GERD, a clinically proven procedure without incisions. 

The TIF procedure is performed safely, quickly, comfortably, with no incisions and with minimal downtime. While under anesthesia the flexible TIF device will be gently lowered through the mouth into the stomach under the visualization of an endoscope “video” placed down the shaft of the device. Once inside the stomach, the surgeon will manipulate the device to create a tight sealing valve and hold it in place with suture-like fasteners.

What can the patient expect after the procedure?

Most patients can return to work the next day or within a few days following their TIF procedure. Patients will likely experience some manageable discomfort in their chest, nose, throat and stomach for the first few days to a week. Patients will be asked to restrict physical activity for the first week and will be given dietary guidelines to help maximize their success while their new antireflux valve heals.

Is TIF safe?

TIF has been proven safe in use in hundreds of procedures worldwide. The TIF procedure is expected to be safer than traditional surgery which often involves incisions in the skin for access to the organs, and cutting around the organs to free the desired area for suturing. With TIF, there are no incisions inside on the organs or outside on the skin.