It might be an option for people who do not find relief from medication -- or cannot stick with long-term drug treatment because of side effects or expense, according to Birgisson, who was not involved in the study.
He added, though, that there should be further studies that compare the device with existing therapies, and look at the long-term effects.
Ganz agreed. The long-term risks are one question. So far, Ganz said, none of the patients in this study has seen the device erode or "migrate" from its intended location. But they have only been followed for a few years.
For his part, Buckley noted that there is a long history of failed therapies in the GERD world. One example is the Angelchik prosthesis, a doughnut-shaped silicone implant developed in the 1970s that wrapped around the junction between the esophagus and stomach. At first, it seemed to work well, but then doctors found high rates of longer-term complications; many people had lasting problems with swallowing, and in some cases the device eroded or slipped out of place.
The LINX device is designed much differently, but no one yet knows how it fares in the long run.
The estimated cost of the device was not available at publication time. The procedure is not currently available at most hospitals. Right now, Buckley said, only certain medical centers in the United States offer it.
Learn more about GERD treatments from the U.S. Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality.
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