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Spencer’s Story: GERD Gone Overnight

Spencer Stone lived with gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD) for several decades, getting through the days and long nights of chest pain and burning with over-the-counter heartburn medications.

“It wasn’t until I was in my late twenties that GERD really started to affect me,” explained Spencer, now 50.

On the recommendation of his wife, Spencer visited an ear, nose, and throat doctor for a consultation in 2001. After the doctor performed an endoscopy, he discovered that he had erosion in his esophagus that could one day lead to a change in the esophageal lining, known as Barrett’s esophagus.

To treat the condition, Spencer continued taking medications for several years. But he continually had to increase the amount of medicine he took in order to get through the day, and he frequently lost his voice.

Determined to make a significant change, Spencer consulted Yong Choi, MD, FACS, minimally invasive surgeon at CHI St. Luke’s Health–The Woodlands Hospital. “By that point, I was having difficulty sleeping and was barely able to get through a conversation because of my GERD,” Spencer said. “I started doing research and found The Woodlands Hospital. I was highly impressed with Dr. Choi, who is a veteran of the United States military, like me. I trusted him completely.”

With Dr. Choi’s guidance, Spencer decided on the LINX Reflux Management System, a minimally invasive procedure to treat GERD. To administer LINX, a surgeon implants a flexible, quarter-sized ring of magnets around the lower esophageal sphincter. The ring of magnets expands to allow food and liquid to pass to the stomach when a person eats and drinks. The ring then shrinks back together to stop acid and food from moving back up into the esophagus.

“Reflux is a disease that can be fixed, and LINX is a great option for patients who are motivated to make a change and are educated about the procedure,” Dr. Choi said. “We make a few small incisions and navigate the operation using a laparoscopic camera. Patients typically go home the day after surgery.”

Spencer’s surgery and recovery went smoothly, and he was back to work the following week.

“Overnight, the GERD was gone,” Spencer said. “The procedure was a life-changing experience for me. Dr. Choi and The Woodlands Hospital team were fantastic every step of the way—I’d recommend them to anyone."