The Stretta procedure relieves heartburn or acid reflux, also known as gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD), symptoms by sending radiofrequency energy to the muscles of the lower esophageal sphincter (LES).
Heartburn and acid reflux/GERD occur when the LES relaxes abnormally allowing stomach acid and food to flow back into your esophagus. The LES works as a valve between the stomach and the esophagus. It opens to allow food and liquid to pass into your stomach and then closes to keep acid and food from regurgitating back into your esophagus.
The Stretta procedure uses electrical energy to help remodel the tissue and improve barrier function and motility of the LES. The energy sent to the muscles increases pressure in the LES, which decreases the amount of time the esophagus is exposed to stomach acid and reduces the patient’s need for GERD medication. This procedure can help reduce the frequency and severity of reflux events. Your physician may recommend this procedure if medications no longer work to relieve your symptoms or if you are not a candidate for a Nissen fundoplication. The Stretta procedure is a minimally invasive procedure, so you can have it performed in an ambulatory surgery center, which can provide better accessibility and ease compared to a hospital.
What Happens During Stretta Procedure?
The procedure takes about 60 minutes with about 30 to 45 minutes of recovery time. Your physician will give you medication to minimize any discomfort you might experience during the procedure. Your physician will insert a small flexible tube, called an endoscope, down your throat and into your esophagus. There is a small camera located at the end of the tube allowing the physician to see the inside of your esophagus. Also attached to the endoscope is the Stretta device, which is a catheter with a balloon on the end. The physician will position the device, inflate the balloon and deploy the needle electrodes. During treatment, radiofrequency energy is delivered in a controlled manner to the tissue surrounding the needle electrodes. The treatment sequence is repeated at multiple levels in the muscle of the LES. Your physician might also take biopsies during the procedure.
Preparing for Stretta Procedure
You will not be able to eat or drink six hours prior to the exam. You may be given specific diet and medication restrictions that you will need to follow the week before the exam.
What Happens After Stretta Procedure?
Due to the sedation, you will need someone to drive you home after the procedure. You may have to recover for about 30 to 45 minutes after the procedure before going home. You may experience a sore throat. Patients are usually able to eat shortly after returning home. You will be limited to a liquid diet for 24 hours after the procedure and then a soft diet for one week. Your physician may prescribe other diet and/or medication restrictions depending on the findings of the exam.